Monday, September 19, 2011

The missing ingredient in Leadership – Love

Cross posted from my other blog []

I waited for almost a year since I first stumbled upon Love Leadership to get my hands on it. I finally ordered it online and it arrived a few weeks back and I devoured this slim 190 pages book in two sittings. On hindsight, I should have ordered this much earlier.
This autobiographical book of John Hope Bryant is a sublime account of his journey through the ups and down of his life – being born into a reasonably well off family to experiencing loss and poverty in his childhood to becoming a street smart enterprenuer and finally being the founder, CEO and Chairman ofOperation HOPE. Love Leadership makes for a fascinating reading. Interspersed with anecdotes, real life stories and quotes, this book points to a fundamental truth that my Spiritual master has been speaking for years now that Love indeed moves the world.
Just today morning I was reading an interview in the newspaper where the interviewer says that corporate culture in India has undergone a sea change in the past few years and not necessarily for the better…expectation of organizations are becoming unrealistically high, which in turn forces people to become aggressive and use inappropriate means to succeed…what has changed fundamentally in our system is that the end is becoming far more important than the means.
John pin points this to where it all starts from from – Leadership. Leadership qualities that are FEAR based have characterisitics such as Coercion, Repression, Exclusion, Anger, Entitlement, Cynicism, Expediency etc. in contrast to LOVE driven leadership that includes Inspiration, Empowerment, Inclusion, Forgiveness, Opportunity, Idealism, Compassion, Spirituality etc.
It delights me no end to read about Spirituality and Love mentioned in the context of corporate world? Oh and that too from the Mecca of Capitalism? Awesome!!
I have been searching for examples of business and books written by people who have been in the shoes of CXO’s and have faced the day to day challenges of running and growing a business based on true spiritual principles. With my limited knowledge and exposure to books in this category, very few come to my mind – Ken Melrose writes about his experiences as CEO of Toro’s in his bookMaking the Grass Greener, James Autry draws about his experiences as president of Meredith Corporation in The Servant Leader and Thitch Haht Nahn’s book, The Art of Power, carries an article written by the CEO of Patagonia. Not to mention other outstanding books such as Conscious Business by Fred Koffman and One by Lance Secretan. Where John’s book stands apart is that he intersperses real life stories, interviews, quotes and incidents to bring to life what could have a very sermonizing and preachy subject.
I had already written about the Five Fundamental laws of leadership on which this book is based in my previous post, In this post, I will share a few quotes that resonated with me.
As someone who is deeply passionate about spirituality and its implementation in day to day life, this book by John makes a delightful read of how to build teams and organizations based on true north principles.
You rock, John!!
  • Loss really does create leaders. It puts you on the path towards love leadership – leadership based on the strength born of struggle.
  • I would learn to talk without being offensive, to listen without being defensive, and to leave my adversaries with their dignity. I would learn to love those I did not like. I would love those who did not deserve love in return.
  • It takes the power of love to banish fear.
  • If you lead with love for the long term, people will follow you forever, wherever – for their own good as well as yours – and you will be remembered as a person of greatness.
  • Networking is a one-way relationship, building relationships is two-way.
  • I don’t believe that you can love unless you do the hard work of circulating that love. Love follows one of the primary laws of money: currency without circulation has no value. Likewise, love without circulation has no value. Love is an action. Love is doing. The action necessary is doing good.
  • If you can put love into circulation, you can achieve not just the accummulation of money but also true wealth, which I define as spiritual wealth, intellectual wealth and emotional wealth – plus some money, which tends to naturally follow the other qualities of true wealth.
  • Admitting weaknesses and owning upto mistakes have counterintuitive benefits. When you are honest, people are more likely to forgive you any weaknesses and mistakes. You are also able to make stronger connection with others That ultimately gives you an ability to persuade and influence people, which in turn strengthens your ability to lead.
  • Vulnerability shows that you are human, and it makes you loved – and all great leaders are, at their core, deeply human and much loved. That’s why people follow them.
  • Coercion gains you only compliance, but influence is about gaining real, sustainable power in the world and above-the-line performance from people
  • True leaders are ladder builders, not ladder climbers. [Art of Living teachers, do you recall the 2009 TRM??]
  • The path to love leadership is not through a closed fist of battle, It;s through an open hand of giving.
  • Love leadership of your people begins with love leadership inside of you.
  • If you want to have a prosperous, sustainable life, you will find it cheaper, smarter and easier to do the work of love leadership.
  • Life is made up of little moments that most of us never notice or acknowledge.
  • A saint is a sinner who got up.
  • We don’t love because of, we love in spite of.
  • We shouldn’t leave saving the world to saints, and we shouldn’t leave capitalism to sinners.
You can follow John on Twitter at @JohnHopeBryant.