Is the use of the word love a problem for you as a central characteristic of strength-based leadership?
I was having lunch with my mentor, Peter Dyck, and we talked about all the unfortunate connotations of the word love and how it can be a trigger word for many people.
The notion of love in leadership is not about being blinded by some romantic ideal that makes your heart go all-a-flutter. This can be a wonderful romantic experience but leadership within organizations is more art than experience.
I appreciate Erich Fromm’s perspective on love. He maintained that love was an art, not merely a romantic notion of falling for something. Love is about standing alive and alert and working on the discipline, concentration, and patience that are required for this very human art.
I joined the discussion of leadership on Chris Bailey’s post on: Is this what leadership looks like? I was originally pulled in by Dick Richards perspective on leadership: leadership means inspiring others to commit their energy to a common purpose. I also liked his client’s distinction betweem managment and leadership: “Management is about allocating the available human energy. Leadership is about raising the amount of human energy available.”
For a moment I would like you to imagine that you are at the following meeting that Dick Richards wrote about:
I once attended a meeting of about 100 managers for the Mediterranean division of an American company that was a client of mine. The managers were Italian, Spanish, Greek. The meeting was held in Italy and the CEO of the division was Italian. I almost fell out of my seat when he said, “Of course we must love our products. Of course we must love our customers. But our success begins with loving one another.”
What would be your thoughts and emotions if you were in attendance?
Can you hear this as a genuine expression with lived expectations and actions or would you hear it as CEO rhetoric?
What does love mean as an art and an action within an organization?
In 2006, it will be 50 years since Erich Fromm published The Art Of Love. In 2006, this blog will advance Fromm’s ideas about the art of love into specific and concrete organizational actions.