Where does good leadership come from? The type that elicits great job satisfaction among your team and fantastic customer service, black numbers on your annual reports, and staff that feel motivated to work for you?
It doesn’t come from your degree or what you do — not even the vision you have.
It comes from love. It comes from how you consistently and in every situation relate to yourself and, ultimately, to others. Good leadership creates a healthy workplace culture and puts the employee first. Meanwhile, toxic offices — remote, virtual, or in-person — are always indicative of bad leadership and the absence of love. Now, before we dive into loving leadership, let’s first lay out some definitions:
Who is a leader? Anyone that sees and ignites the potential within others by presenting them with the resources, opportunities, support, and challenges needed.
What is leadership? The act of uplifting those around you in service of both the individual and greater good.
While the head of a company inevitably takes a leadership role, leadership is not a position — it’s a way of being. Leadership is not a promotion — it’s a choice. I’ve seen people in the C-suite that have no business calling themselves a leader. I’ve seen executives being hailed for the success they’ve accomplished on the shoulders of their crippling staff, the underpaid mid-level manager picking up her boss’s slack while the boss is on vacation. A leader leads by example, is compassionate, pursues a vision, starts a euphoria for the future among their team, listens deeply and intentionally, and most importantly, genuinely cares for his team.
If you identify with this, you are a leader. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a sophomore in college, the new employee of a young company, the CEO of an international company, or the founder of a start-up.
How to Be a Good Leader
But wait, how do you get all of this caring and loving done as a leader? Well, it’s not in your quarterly reports, that’s for sure. Rather, the key to caring about others as a leader is to love yourself deeply. If you love yourself, you can love others. Unfortunately, self-love, in this world, is two things:
1) SELFISHNESS: It’s misunderstood as being egotistical. Loving others while hating yourself is a grueling task that leads to resentment at best and serious mental and physical pain at worst.
2) INVALIDATION: It’s often conditioned out of us from a young age onward and replaced with limiting beliefs such as, “I’m not good/worthy/pretty/fast enough”.
What is Self-Love?
Loving yourself is crucial to personal progress and the very foundation for good leadership. What does self-love look like? And what does this have to do with mental health and the health of the company, you ask. I’m glad you do.
WHAT IT’S NOT: You won’t find it at the spa, nor can you pick it up at a bar, the theater, on a hike, or buy it while splurging on shoes. Self-love is right within you, right at this moment — waiting to be remembered.
WHAT IT IS: Leadership is an act of self-love. It’s the act of looking after yourself and acknowledging what you need. Leadership comes from relating to yourself as if you were your own top employee, biggest investor, and most important customer all at once. Leadership, therefore, isn’t a mental health issue, it’s a matter of mental health.
Poor leadership leads to poor mental health. Good leadership leaves space for the individual to prosper. Good leadership breeds a healthy environment which breeds prosperity.
Leadership Begins With YOU!
Ultimately, the only way to ever heal the world is by focusing on and healing yourself. This is why Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about self-love. It’s why Michael Jackson famously sang the lyrics, “If they wanna make the world a better place; Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
So, how do you run a company, look after everybody’s health, write these grant proposals, sit down with investors, and tend to never-ending customer requests, AND become more loving all at once? The answer is as simple as it is uneasy: You start with yourself.
You start by gracefully loving yourself. You start by asking yourself questions such as:
- “What would be the most loving thing to do right now?”
- “What do I need, from myself or others, to make this 10% easier on me?”
- “What are 5 things I’m grateful for?”
- “Do I feel heard?” “How can I listen more intently to my staff?”
- “What, within me and within one team member, am I appreciative of?” (Go and tell them!)
Resources for Your Self-Love Journey
Ultimately, self-love is an ever-evolving journey that needn’t be walked alone. There are plenty of resources out there, including this FREE ebook The MAPS Institute and I released that guides you from Doing to Being. You can also click on the book below to download your own copy!
MEDITATION: Meditation and the above questions are entirely free and merely require your commitment to yourself and your company.
BOOKS: There are books out there that change you word by word. Robert Holden wrote many of those, two being Lovability and Shift Happens. Louise Hay might just be the mother of self-love and wrote the book Life Loves You.
DOCUMENTARIES: Tony Robbins – I’m not your Guru is a fantastic documentary on Netflix that goes behind the scenes and what it is that makes Tony tick the loving way he does.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation offers fantastic resources to its community.
COACHES AND PHILOSOPHY: Many coaches, if you so choose to hire one, anchor their coaching within self-love. Religious, spiritual, and philosophical leaders of thought such as St. Francis of Assisi, the Buddha, Jesus, Kant, Einstein — you name it — have offered this one path to healing, growth, and fulfillment: self-love.
You are a leader. Step up to the plate and love yourself.
Your body will thank you with health and strength. Your employees will thank you and stick around. Your investors will be prosperously happy and invest more. Your customers will become super fans. Life will be good.
In loving leadership,