The experience of love, to be in relationship, is what universally drives us as humans. Leading as Love has four interdependent facets and all must be present to effectively lead our lives or be a truly effective leader:
- Care is the active concern about the well-being and growth of all as human beings. This is to care about oneself and others. Its opposite is apathy or indifference.
- Understanding is seeing deeply into people, the dignity and uniqueness without judgement of what each offers. This is actively seeking and learning about, knowing and valuing oneself and others and what we truly want and need. It appreciates and fosters self-awareness. Its opposite is ignorance or unawareness.
- Respect is granting freedom to be who we are, have our own opinions, make our choices and grow in our own way without control, the autonomy for full self-expression. It values self-discovery that enables and allows the drive to self-realization. Its opposite is control or disregard.
- Responsiveness is active sensitivity and conscious response to fulfillment of innate needs of purpose and meaning, relationships and belonging, self-determination and choice, and growth and achievement. It is taking action to support and enhance our lives as humans, our dignity and well-being. It is a choice for mutual benefit with all needs and viewpoints being equal, valid and viable. It is conscious action based on the full breadth of implications and consequences. The opposite is lack of engagement or use of force.
These elements of love are not new. They were first put forth by Erich Fromm in the book, The Art of Loving. An intention of Leading as Love is a philosophy, attitude and approach that permeates and is visible in every action. It is the context, an awareness and perspective that gives meaning and drives action. If the use of the word, “love” is bothersome, choose another that captures the full meaning for you.
More than anything in life we want to feel loved, appreciated and valued. One has to give what one wants to receive. Care, understanding, respect and responsiveness are the dynamic facets that are evident when we are actively and fully engaged in relationship with others. They are distinct from similar characteristics of concern, knowledge, fairness and responsibility which generally address issues or objects rather than people.