At the beginning of this blog let me ask you what do you lead out of? Perhaps a better question would be how do you motivate those you lead? After years of rubbing shoulders with different leaders I am certain there are only two places leaders lead from, and they have completely different impacts. In short people either lead out of fear or love. It very much depends on how you have learnt to lead. The question is which well of leadership motivation yields the greatest influence?
In thinking about this topic, you can probably recall situations where a culture of fear is the norm around some of the leaders you have been led by. How did that work out? How effective is using fear to drive your organisation or team? If you are anywhere near staff recruitment now you will be aware that people joining your organisation are looking for much more than just a good salary.
“You may create short-term focus by using fear. And that may work for a couple of hours or a couple of days, maybe for a couple of years. In the short term it may work, but there’s no way that fear leads to any sustainable result in the long run.” Frank Krings, former COO of Deutsche Bank Europe
Fear tends to be about control or protection. Fear will undermine trust because it tends to look for blame. As leaders you can react out of fear, but it often results in bad decisions which have difficult consequences. Fear wherever it comes from distracts us from clear thinking and wise decision making.
Fear leads us to be focused on protecting ourselves. It cuts us off from the solutions that could come out of a debate amongst peers focused on the issues at hand so that everyone wins. A culture of fear leads to a mindset of not speaking up for fear of the consequences.
To get the best out of those you lead it is important to realise there is a different way to lead.
The Difference Leading from Love Makes
“Love leadership is a way of thinking and acting that acknowledges your selfish longings for success and outside acknowledgement, yet also taps the often hidden strength inherent in your personal insecurities, your limitations, even your failings. It mines the wisdom to be found in life’s setbacks.” John Hope Bryant
1. Those you lead will trust your motives if they understand you have their highest good in mind.
2. Your influence will extend beyond the time you are in the room with the people you lead. When people believe you are interested in them, want to hear what they think and make room for their contribution then their desire to follow your leadership will increase.
3. The leader needs to model the behaviour they want to see. Love leadership requires the leader to do the hard work on the inside so they can lead well on the outside.
4. When your motivation as a leader is for the highest good of those you lead then you are more transparent around them. Control requires leaders to hold onto information unnecessarily. Instead, unless there are issues of confidentiality train those you lead to deal with the information. Those you lead always know when you are holding something back.
5. Taking the time to discover, explore and understand your team members strengths points to a huge gain in engagement with the work they are doing.
There are many more, but these will get you started. (You can find a fuller model in my book I See You) It has risks but the culture which can grow around you when love or care is the motivation is worth it. After spending time with many leaders, Kouzes & Posner interestingly made the following observation in The Leadership Challenge:
“Of all the things that sustain a leader over time, love is the most lasting.”