During the time I spent overseas working with NGOs (non-governmental organizations), I had the opportunity to work alongside some remarkable people. I always had a sense that the young professionals on our staff were destined for great things, perhaps serving their countries in government, making a splash in the private sector, or maybe taking over my field director job to take things to the next level.
One such leader was Daniel (not his real name). Daniel was talented, motivated, ethical, and extremely bright – a true expert of his craft. Impressively, he was working on his Ph.D. even while he was doing a great job overseeing our technical programs. I guess you could say he was a model employee, yet something in Daniel’s leadership seemed to be missing. As his boss, I felt compelled to try to bring it to his attention, but how do you tell someone that it seems like they don’t love people? I felt silly saying such a thing, so I muddled through his evaluations talking about his many strengths and how we as leaders should demonstrate our care and concern for the staff beyond their job performance. I’m not sure he ever got the message. Eventually, Daniel did move up in the organization and struggled immensely in leadership, precisely because he wasn’t connecting well with his staff.
To this day, I’m not sure how to teach someone to love others or to bring it up in a performance review without it getting awkward. But I’m convinced that people from every tribe, tongue, and culture can easily tell whether or not you’ve got it, and that it makes a night-and-day difference in your ability to lead effectively. If I were a cheesy consultant, I would say it’s the key to “10X” your business (that I even thought of it probably means I am a cheesy consultant!). Call it cheesy, soft, or even silly, musicians aren’t the only ones who have a lot to say about love. According to the scriptures, love may not be all we need, but without it, we don’t have much (1Cor. 13:1). Love is God’s defining characteristic (1John 4:8) and the greatest among the commandments (Luke 10:27), and not just reserved for those we happen to like (Matt. 5:44). Love is also the appropriate response to what God has done for us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (1John 4:19), and the first fruit of a life transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). So, who do you love?
- Take a moment to pray for those God has brought into your path. Ask for the “heart transplant” talked about in Ezekiel 36:26.
- Make an effort to learn the names of the family members of your staff and find out what they’re up to.
- If those you lead happen to invite you to a wedding, graduation, or funeral, go! You may live to regret it if you don’t.