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Simply put, this book is about allowing love into your leadership. It is also about increasing your capacity to love, not just your family but also the people you work with, your community and your world. Further, it is about maturing to a point in your evolution where you can generate an infinitely higher level of respect for the dignity and humanity of all individuals. In this book, I am going to show you what can happen to you, to your business, and to the world when you increase your capacity to love, and no longer compartmentalize it, so that love permeates every area of your life.

The Buddha said, "The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings."

To me, the concept of Love Leadership is the all-important next step on the world stage, and it is not merely a "good to have" but a critical "got to have." Nor is it a feel-good rehash of a New Age philosophy. Instead, as I will show you in the chapters ahead, it is, or should be and must become, a highly effective, serious, ultramodern, results-driven brand of leadership - one that, as I hope you will agree by the time you finish reading this book, is urgently needed in this the lightning-speed communicating, rapidly shrinking, 24/7 networked, human global society in which we now live. Because, like it or not, this is a world from which there is no turning back.

Think about the word itself. LOVE. That one word has unique power like no other. We all tend to use the word lightly, and thus trivialize it, as in "I love chocolate." Yet, being told "I love you" by someone we care about is a personal validation that can actually change the very molecules in our bodies. One researcher who proved this is Dr. Masaru Emoto, author of the best-selling The Hidden Messages in Water (Beyond Words Publishing, 2004). In his experiments, Dr. Emoto wrote the word "love" on paper and positioned the paper with the word on it near water. He then studied the crystalline formations. Next he changed the written word to "hate." The changes in the structure of water were immediate and dramatic. Somehow "feeling" the word love (I don't pretend to fully understand this, but his results have been verified) the water itself made beautiful patterns, while proximity to the word "hate" (and a few other negative words he used) caused the water to assume tight, defensive, essentially ugly patterns.

As Dr. Emoto concluded, "There is an intrinsic vibrational pattern at the atomic level in all matter, which is the smallest unit of energy. Its basis is the energy of human consciousness, and words alone can have a profound effect." This concept of a vibrational pattern is called "hado," and has been accepted in Japan for thousands of years.

If this sounds far-out to you, think about it in terms of your own experience - and not just when you hear the words "I love you" from a beloved's lips. Think about the difference that small loving gestures make: a warm hug, a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of consideration. Think about the transformational power of love, and again, not the word alone, but the love of others, rather than the domination of others. Think about how resilient, courageous, adventuresome and full you are when you feel loved. Think about the intrinsic happiness you feel when you give love. In many cases, it doesn't even need to be said, just felt. This book is about how allowing love into your leadership can make you perform better, and how it will do the same for the people you lead.

To be completely clear, this book is not about the word but rather the action of love. What I have found is that to move or influence people, you must enter their intellect through emotion. Although knowledge is indeed power, to change behavior, feelings are more effective than facts, and affecting people's feelings engenders a deeper, more memorable experiential process than simply imparting information.

Imagine what could happen if (and, hopefully, when) that becomes a dominant principle in the culture of U.S. and Canadian corporations, and corporations around the world. And also, again hopefully, when a Love Leadership style begins to permeate the halls of academia, hospitals, non-for-profit organizations, the military - in fact, all arenas of human endeavor and all areas where human beings interact. Can you envision how the effects might resonate throughout the country and the planet, like the ripples that flow in ever-widening circles? Or like a song being sung by one person and then another and another until that song resonates around the globe. Imagine how deep and broad this could get! The possibility sends shivers down my spine.

The uniqueness of Love Leadership

What differentiates Love Leadership from other styles of leadership - for example, the classic, top-down, Newtonian "command-and-control" style, which I will discuss later on - is that a Love Leader is one who treats those under, beside or even above him or herself with respect, fully appreciating and regularly acknowledging their contributions toward the greater good. The qualities inherent in a Love Leadership culture, which is based more on a Whiteheadian model, as I will also explain in more detail, are flexibility, co-responsibility, compassion, and respect for the unconditional protection of the dignity of the individual. Love Leaders are authentic, principled, courageous, open, inclusive, humanistic, accountable, and able to admit mistakes and show vulnerability. The freedom of Love Leadership inspires creativity and adventurousness. This culture will also attract abundance - that is, love draws to it more love and more rewards. Simply put, the more you give the more you get.

Using the word "love" to express how you feel about the people you work with is not always well-received in a business setting. That being said, what I have discovered in the course of my career - a discovery that continues to astonish me daily, and is the foundation, the bedrock if you will, of my work as a leadership coach - is that, when those who lead others are willing to bring that basic human emotion into their roles, absolute miracles occur. People thrive, businesses prosper, customers are happy, and the vibrational pattern is a positive one for the world at large.

Love Leaders are not perfect human beings. They are, however, willing to do things in a way that is not always easy. They are willing, for example, to allow people their dignity, even when they have to provide negative feedback on job performance, fire an individual, or painfully "excess" large numbers of people when cutbacks can't be avoided. Love Leaders also have the courage - and make no mistake, it can take courage - to appropriately express their deep affection for the people they lead, whether or not they use the actual word love, as we shall see in some of the true examples ahead.

Where my work truly began

The genesis of Love Leadership as my personal calling stems from four episodes, beginning over ten years ago, in which I personally experienced the awesome power of the word love, and, more importantly, the power of love in action.

The first episode took place early in my career. I had spent several years managing people in a corporation of some 4,500 employees, where one of the teams I led had, over time, developed an amazing synergy that allowed us to consistently produce extraordinary results. One day, at a meeting with another group within the same company, someone verbally subjected a fellow on our team, although he was not present, to a barrage of unwarranted criticism. I objected, and concluded my defense with "I love Dave."

While the people around the table did not say anything, eyes rolled and looks of amusement were exchanged, as if some embarrassing secret had just been revealed. Perplexed by that cynical reaction, I began to ask myself how we had gotten to this point in corporations, where a simple statement like that was suspect, even taboo. It was very much an "aha moment" that a phrase I considered normal would be met with such a critical response. Perhaps this should not have surprised me as much as it did, given the corporate conditioning on what is considered normal and abnormal to which we have traditionally been subjected. No matter what factors were at play, it was upsetting to me that my having expressed my feelings in that way was seen as abnormal.

While I was mulling this over, still working at that large company, I became associated with The Pacific Institute (TPI), based in Seattle, where I sought to further invest my personal and our teams' leadership development through the TPI curriculum.

The pioneering work of The Pacific Institute

The Pacific Institute is an international corporation, founded in 1971 by Lou and Diane Tice. Its mission is to provide educational curricula based on the foundations of modern cognitive psychology and social learning theory. Their intention is to empower individuals by allowing them to recognize and access their ability to choose growth, freedom and personal excellence. One of my most powerful lessons was in learning how thinking affects performance and that I (like everyone else) always act in accordance with the truth as I believe it to be, even though my truth - or yours - may not necessarily be the "real truth," if there even is such a thing. The danger, I learned, is that, for example, if I formed a truth that "love is not part of leadership," I might base my actions on that belief rather than on what was intuitively true for me - in this case, that love is a part of leadership.

In 1997, I left my employment and began a full-time consulting practice of my own, which I call "thinc., Corporate Change Architect," affiliated with The Pacific Institute. During this period, I attended a three-day community-building workshop on team development that was also attended by several men and women who were my new colleagues at TPI, where we would all be freelance leadership coaches. The workshop was based on the philosophy of Dr. M. Scott Peck, an inspirational speaker who wrote the bestseller, The Road Less Traveled. This was the longest, most in-depth involvement I'd had with my new colleagues at TPI, and it allowed us the opportunity to see who each of us was and what we were all about.

At this point in my life I was becoming much more comfortable saying what I felt and speaking authentically. I was now prepared to be vulnerable and even a little courageous. I knew that in being authentic and fully self-expressed, I could potentially be judged negatively by the group. I was willing to risk it, so I did express myself fully with those people on those days.

A natural connection, revealed

On the final day, one of the leaders of our team, a woman named Sheri Atteridge (who has since become a valued friend), passed me a note. What she wrote was, "You are so authentic with our team. People are attracted to your loving leadership." Reading her words, which made me feel both valued and validated, I suddenly saw myself differently. I saw clearly not only who I was but also what I was trying to do to help others. Those few simple words had a profound effect on my life. I began to see the strong, natural connection between leadership and love. More importantly, I realized that I was a loving leader and that it was not just okay to be one. It appeared to me to be far more effective than any other style of leadership.

A few years later I got a call for my services as a leadership consultant. The caller, Myrna Bentley, had been promoted from within to the position of CEO of a major financial services company in Canada. Myrna, having been with the company for many years, had been conditioned to operate in the common "top down" management style, and had consequently cloaked her authentic self in order to fit in and succeed in the corporate culture. However, Myrna also knew there was a different style, one that would be far more authentic for her. Like many executives who rise to the top of their organizations, Myrna had uncomfortably adapted herself to fit an authoritarian management style. She also knew this was not really who she was, and that this style would not work in the new culture she wanted to create in her company. In essence, she felt trapped in a false persona.

After being led successfully out of near bankruptcy by the previous CEO, the company had reached a plateau. Despite its many successes, the company was struggling to get to the next level. While the past CEO had used command-and-control techniques, which were appropriate and effective for the immediate crisis, a new corporate culture was clearly needed.

Myrna was completely open to working with me to find a better way to work collaboratively with her top executives as well as with the entire company. Newly confident in my ideas about Love Leadership, although I had not yet begun to call it by that name, I asked Myrna, "Is there a different approach we can take to leadership?" Delighted to be "real" and now given permission through my coaching to lead in a style that came so naturally to her, she created a culture of Love Leadership that allowed her to propel the company to become the flourishing $4 billion corporation it is today. In fact, the company prospered so dramatically that it was rated number one in "best practices in business and industry" by the Conference Board of Canada, as well as earning accolades elsewhere as one of the "50 Best Managed" and "100 Best Places To Work in Canada."

Telling people you work with that you love them, publicly

I clearly recall with great emotion and pride the day that Myrna was invited to speak at the annual conference of The Pacific Institute. This event is a prestigious symposium that is attended by 800 or more business leaders from all over the world. Myrna's presentation was greeted with a rousing ovation. After the applause died down, Myrna walked to the front of the stage, individually named every person on her staff in the audience, and told them each publicly that she loved them.

The next day, another speaker, the head of a South African company, began his address, and stood for a moment in thoughtful silence, quivering slightly. The next thing he said was, "I have learned here that it's okay to tell people I love them, and I will." He then said "I love you," by name, to every single member of his team who was present. The audience sat mesmerized, clearly moved by the courage of this big man to break from the norm and speak from his heart.

As I listened, it occurred to me that a lot had happened since the time I defended a colleague by blurting out "I love Dave." Now here I was, listening to people say "I love you" publicly to their colleagues, male and female alike. And it was not only okay with the hundreds of people in attendance; it was being celebrated and applauded as a best business practice!

Increasing the capacity to love

Sitting in that auditorium, I recalled a word association game I used to play with my kids that involved connecting two incongruent words. Like explorers seeking new territories, we'd try to think of two words that had never been put together before, like "scuba and salad" or "briefcases and bananas." Now love and leadership, two words that might have seemed equally odd together, no longer seemed incongruent. In truth, they were like the two magnets I sometimes roll around in my pocket. Once in a while, the magnet halves would accidentally come together so forcefully that they stuck, and formed a combined unit. The combination of these two words, the concept they created, now made perfect sense. And this was apparently true, not only for me, but also for a growing number of others.

Recently I had another epiphany. I realized that the quest I am on (and perhaps I sound like a Don Quixote, but I'm willing to risk it) is to increase my own capacity to love, and to love not just my immediate family but the entire human family, the community we are all a part of, whether we know it or not. Recognizing this, I can only hope that, by using whatever powers of persuasion I have, I can stimulate your capacity to love others, and convince you to use your newfound abilities on a leadership level and in all aspects of your life. That is what I try to do, daily, in mine, for no other reason than this: we need it. It is what the world needs now.