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Love comes so naturally to us and yet we leave it at home or reserve it for other endeavors, such as our church, charity or kids. The author of Love and Profit, James Autry, addresses this mystery by saying work and life have become two distinct entities over the decades. We talk about the balance between work and life as if they are two totally different things. With that mindset, love is an emotion that is most certainly reserved for the latter and has no place in the former.
It is important to see the whole picture and not draw these sharp boundaries between work and life. As Autry says, “work is life and life is work.” How can we as servant-leaders fully take care of employees (and other stakeholders) if we don’t bring all our emotions to the table when serving them and dealing with the situations of the day? We must draw on love, whether to compassionately assist an employee who has lost a loved one, assist someone who is struggling in his or her role, or to passionately convey a vision for the organization.
I understand how personal the emotion of love is and it’s important to really understand what I mean when I use the word “love.” In Greek, there are three words for love: agape, felios and eros. Agape is the unconditional love modeled by Jesus. Felios is a friendship type of love and eros is romantic love. Agape and felios are the love of a servant-leader.
In a world measured by wealth, fame and power, many leaders feel that love is too much to risk.

As you evolve as a leader and start taking steps to bring your servant’s heart to your leadership, begin to think of your leadership role from three levels of consciousness.

  1. Responsible, effective, operational/administrative – at this level you are managing challenges, being directive when necessary and serving as manager and organizer.
  2. Concerned, caring, loving, empathetic, value oriented – at this level you are empowering and developing others, enabling healthy interactions, and seeing your people and organization as whole.
  3. Detached, deeply seeing events of yesterday, today and tomorrow – at this level you are comfortable with solitude and use it as an asset to develop long-term perspectives and a broader vision for what is possible in terms of your organization’s impact on the world.

These three levels are not necessarily linear, but overlapping throughout our leadership journey. And they all need the attention of your loving heart.
Join me in the “Servant Leadership Strategy Group,” a four-week teleclass starting February 2012, to explore and define how you will transform your leadership role in 2012. Stay tuned for the details and how to register.

Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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