In our final look at leading with love, we come to the central goal of this whole approach: improving our life, and the lives of those around us – promotion of the human, social, and planetary good that is the outcome of love in action.
It’s hard to think about the promotion of wellbeing when we are trapped in survival mode, just barely making it through each day in a dehumanising workplace. In a culture of one-upmanship informed by the ruthless logic of social Darwinian capitalism, the ‘I–It’ worldview dominates. People are instrumentalised, exploited for maximum profit, their needs, desires and ambitions disregarded.
The leader who operates from the ‘I–It’ perspective does themselves a disservice and, ultimately, consigns themselves to a losing struggle. Their self-esteem is transactional, based solely on others’ recognition of their performance. This constant seeking of reassurance from those you actively compete against in an illusory winner-take-all tussle is a dead end. If setting up an external locus of evaluation to determine our own self-worth is a recipe for disappointment in the ordinary world, within working life it can become truly torturous.
For the ‘I-Thou’ leader who sees others not as mere competition or tools, but as fully rounded human beings, recognition and respect is something that is born from within. Through self-compassion, honesty, and a commitment to principles higher than themselves, leaders of this kind become a model for others to follow, an example to be emulated that benefits individuals and wider organisations. They are energised by a positive vision for the future yet remain firmly rooted in the present, making things happen in the here and now instead of worrying about what is to come or wallowing in what has already passed.
Making our workplaces more inclusive, more life affirming, and more human is something we can all be proud of, and we don’t need to wait. Leading with love is something we can begin to practice as soon as we decide we want to make a change. We can value people without sacrificing performance, drive or ambition. In fact, we can make our businesses and organisations perform better than ever when we make the most of what everyone has to offer.
Choosing to lead with love is a process that never reaches its end, we don’t wake up one day as the perfect leader. Instead, every day we can learn a little bit more about how to best serve ourselves and those around to us, tapping into that most important and fundamentally human force.
Leading with Love: Rehumanising the Workplace is available to order here.