Have you ever felt like you were at war in your business? That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that leadership models were originally based on military models. Military academies still focus on developing leaders.
You may have heard the idea that everything is based on either fear or love. In the 1500s, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince. He was asked a question about being loved versus being feared, and in answering, Machiavelli wrote, “The answer is of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.” He related this to military models, providing examples of Hannibal and others who were feared. In 1651, Thomas Hobbes’ publication Leviathan described the natural state of mankind as “nasty, brutish and short.”
Our collective conscious awareness has evolved significantly since Machiavelli and Hobbes.
In the early 20th century, business looked for ways to increase productivity with a largely uneducated workforce. Frederick Winslow Taylor, author of The Principles of Scientific Management, proposed what was a thinly disguised military model. Fear was scientifically injected into the workplace. Though productivity did increase, another result was power struggles between management and unions representing workers. World War II and the Korean War only served to reinforce Taylor’s model in the United States.
Transitioning From Brawn To Brain
In the early 1950s, perceptions about leading began to shift with the work of Abraham Maslow and Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s famous “14 Points.” As work became less about muscle and more about mind, leadership styles started to change.
Today, we have an ever-increasing number of “knowledge workers,” and millennials are rapidly moving into leadership roles. Managing them through fear often results in them voting with their feet to find a more engaging corporate culture.
Rapid changes in the last 25 years now require leaders to look at different approaches. What will replace the old models?
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
“It might sound bizarre, but one of the beliefs for effective leadership is to be madly in love with all the people you’re leading.” – Ken Blanchard
For a moment, consider a leader who may have inspired you. Perhaps they inspired you because they touched your deepest essence. They brought forward the very best of who you are, encouraging you to transcend any fear you might have had and any doubts that might have been weighing on you. And, for a select few leaders, they led from their loving, which allowed you to bring forward your loving.
We are all born with a consciousness of unconditional loving – even if only for a brief instant. This consciousness is slowly buried under beliefs about who we are, what we can do, where we can do it, when we can do it and how we can do it. By the time we reach adulthood, there are many layers of rules that have become hardened or crystallized. And yet that spark of unconditional loving still exists inside each person. Only rarely is it extinguished completely.
When we first come into the work environment, we have bosses and co-workers who bring with them their distinctive individual beliefs. These beliefs may or may not match the ones we have. In an effort to be a responsible adult, and to ensure we can support ourselves, we “buy into” many of these other beliefs even if they don’t match ours. After about 31 days, these beliefs begin to become our beliefs and slip from a conscious choice to an unconscious default action.
In the work environment, people often choose from four substitutes for loving:
• Some leaders focus on money and become so bound to the quarter-to-quarter expectations of Wall Street that they won’t allow anything but the complete and total focus on revenue and expenses to inform their choices.
• Others make sure they gain recognition for their accomplishments, and if they don’t have any accomplishments, they may lay claim to those of their co-workers.
• Some focus on protecting themselves by becoming indispensable to the organization, or so they believe.
• And finally, human resources’ biggest fear: the romantic ideal. In this idealized fantasy, leaders tend to downplay or perhaps reject what other employees see clearly — for example, customer dissatisfaction, legal challenges, and even the possibility that their employment is coming to an end.
Yet deep down inside, people are crying out for love. Most of us don’t have a definition of loving that won’t put our livelihood in jeopardy, so we continue our pursuit for one or all of the four loving substitutes.
“Great leaders genuinely care for and love the people they lead more than they love leading itself. Leadership without love degenerates into self-serving manipulation.” – Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of the 8th largest church in the U.S.
Loving leadership, the next evolution of leadership, is becoming an answer to that cry. Dr. Raj Sisodia, one of the thought leaders of Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, talks about love and caring as the main building blocks for building fully-human organizations. Another example is John Mackey, founder and CEO of Whole Foods, and Subaru, which has built an entire advertising campaign on love.
“The voice of your loving becomes clearer as you practice listening to it. You learn
to screen out the voices that are not loving. That way, you build a conscious connection
to your loving guidance. Then you can be confident that love is leading you.” – John Roger, founder of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness
The action of loving is unique in that it is both a choice and an outcome. Regardless of work situations or circumstances, a leader can choose to radiate loving. The outcome is the recipient also begins to resonate with loving, which can have numerous benefits — including financial — to an organization.
How are you choosing to lead?
Originally published at www.forbes.com