In conversation with a woman I met at a function she told me that leading people was very difficult for her. After about 15 minutes of conversation I realized why. Her view of the people she was leading was not beneficial. Leadership is influence but leading from a place of love first is key. We spent more time discussing that aspect and I could see her interest peek. I could also see that she realized she had not been leading from a place of love (caring genuinely about the people) but rather from a place of getting the job done. That made leading difficult.

Here’s what I believe as a long-time leader: If I don’t love you, how can I serve you? If I can’t serve you, then how can I influence you? If I don’t influence you then how can I lead you? We won’t be perfect as leaders because we’re first people but if we start from a place of love we’re already ahead of any mistakes we may make. And we will make mistakes.

Leadership is…
loving
serving
influencing
leading

When I worked in Corporate America, the concept of loving the people you worked with or led was not even a thought let alone a conversation. It was always about the bottom line. Some stepped on toes, back-stabbed others and compromised their integrity to get ahead.  As I moved up the ladder, I had bosses that were kind and others who were not.  My first boss in corporate really cared about me not just the position.  I was 19 and worked under her tutelage until I was 21. She was amazing. She was in her 60’s, widowed, smart as a whip, spunky, and funny — a power-house. She knew her job and did it well. She was a leader — well-known and respected in various areas of the company and by the customers.  She had a way of speaking her mind; telling the truth directly not to harm you but to help you. She would always say, “Lisa, you have the brains, the beauty and the heart so I’m going to teach you how to operate in an all male, all white environment.”  Her words, not mine. That language was strange to me back at that early age but remember, Viola was in her early 60’s and I was 19. I can still see her matte ruby-red lipstick, a cigarette hanging from the side of her mouth, and her bleached blond hair styled after a woman we both liked: Lucy from the I love Lucy show.  She was a tall woman who walked fast and worked hard! She had a kind word for everyone.

Viola took time to teach me important lessons as a leader. She was patient, kind, clear in her direction, available for questions, and eager to pour the wealth of wisdom that came from 60+ years in business and life. That’s a good leader! She loved me, served me, influenced me and lead meHer leadership was love in action! We didn’t sit down and discuss it at the time but looking back, that’s exactly what she was doing. She wanted me to be my best in business — to succeed in who I was becoming and in what I was doing. I brought my Christian faith into my job because God is with me wherever I am. I first learned my best leadership lessons under my Grandparents and in church. I remember when Viola said, “Lisa, I’m not a religious woman but I sure think your God must think you’re something special cause I sure do.” I miss her still.  She impacted my life in ways I can’t express adequately.  The lessons I learned from Viola are priceless and I’ve carried them through to my now 51 years and counting.

I’ve shared this with you because if you’re a leader, remember you are influencing others. The question is how are you influencing them? If you come from a place of genuine care for them then your influence will be positive, even life-changing in different ways.  Whenever we start from a place of love everything else just gets better. Looking for harmony with the person or groups and teams that you lead? I love what the bible says:

“Love…binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14

Stay tuned for more leadership articles. I’d love to hear from you on how you view leadership and what has worked for you? Do you have an experience that you remember that positively impacted your life as a leader? Do share.

Cheering you on as you lead with love,

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