“If you believe, as I do, that your employees truly are your most valuable asset, you will do whatever you can to help them do their jobs as well as possible.” – Harvey Mackay
In my last article in this series, I spoke of how the desire to be liked as a leader will never make you a good leader, that said it is hard to like everyone you work with. Over the course of my working life I have had many people I did not like, some professionally and some personally. It is easier to shy away from someone as a peer. Although I hold to the principle that leadership should be practiced from the newest boot to the chief executive, when you become a boss, you can no longer dodge working with people you don’t like.
It is easy to work with someone you like. Leading people isn’t about liking people but is about loving them. You can never be a successful leader without loving people. The Bible, in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, gives us great principles on which to build leadership traits. It says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” There is a saying that goes “They won’t care to know until they know you care”. Think about that for just a second.
Love is Patient, Love is Kind
Learning to take the time to bear with those you lead will communicate that they matter. Not everyone is on the same level or have been given the same opportunities. Seeing people as people who come from all kinds of backgrounds, some even terrible, will allow you to be kind and understanding. It may be their responsibility, but it is not all their fault. I have a rule, “Everyone Succeeds”. Sometimes that does not happen, but it does force us to make every attempt and not give up because it was easier on us. Taking the time to bear with their shortcomings allows respect to build on both sides which allows for communication and growth.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud
Humility is at the top of all traits for being a good leader. Rick Warren states, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” This should be a great reminder that leadership is about others. If we spend more time thinking of how we can help people succeed, we will have less time trying to make ourselves look better at others expense.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs
Love means always seeking the best for those you serve, even if you don’t like them personally. Seeing people at their best may cause them to desire to become better. Although discipline is a vital part of leadership it is often under or mis-used. When it becomes necessary to correct people, do so out of love, seeking their improvement. This will keep the discipline pure enough to correct the behavior and allow them to grow and hopefully see the error. Once discipline has been carried out, let it go. Don’t hold onto past wrongs. Improvement will have a better chance of developing if people know that the cloud doesn’t hang over their head indefinitely.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
Love and truth go hand in hand. Getting people to do the right thing for the right reason is what we call the “Why” of what we do. In most venues people understand the what and how but miss the Why. The Why is the mission and it is their understanding of everything that is expected. To delight in evil would be to gloat over someone’s guilt or downfall. Therefore loving those you serve is so important, it keeps the evil in each of us from developing and allows us to pursue the good even in those troublesome people we lead.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres
Loving those you lead should always be about seeking the best for them. We have seen too many times recently where leaders have abandoned their people because of their lack of courage. If we make our mission about loving our people, we will always seek to protect them. Certainly, this one thing alone would make the greatest difference to your people, having their backs. This does not mean that you fail to discipline when it is needed, that is also love. Those you lead will follow you into fire if they know they have your support. Trust your people to do their jobs. Give them permission to fail if necessary so they will not be afraid to try. And when they fail; talk to them, educate them, pick them up and let them go back out with the support they need to succeed. You should be seeking excellence not perfection.
Love never fails
We have such a huge leadership failure in this profession and all areas where leaders exist. If you love your people, there is no end to what they will accomplish for you and for others. Love is servanthood which is leadership. You will probably never be remembered for the things that you have done but people will remember you for the love you had for them and how you served.
Editor Note: This is the fourth article in Chief Barfield’s “Creating Courage” Series. We encourage you to read his previous articles below: