All You Need Is Love?

The Beatles said, “All you need is love.”  Then they broke up in a bitter feud.

If you’re going wrong as a leader, especially during stressful times, it may be because you’re making decisions with the wrong goal in mind.

What are the wrong goals?

You want the following:

  1. To be loved.
  2. Everyone to agree with you and like you.
  3. Full harmony on your team.
  4. To go to bed knowing that everyone everywhere speaks well of you.

This is a terrible motivation as a leader.

There are two groups of people who you should seek love from:

  1. Your spouse
  2. Your friends

That’s it.  In every other relationship, seeking to be loved is going to make you weak and ineffective.  That includes:

  • Parent/child. If you seek to be loved by your kids, you’re a weak parent.  You don’t give them what they need because you’re afraid they won’t love you.  Often what they need isn’t popular.  That’s why you’re the parent and they’re the child.  Do what’s right for them and ignore the popularity polls.
  • Teacher/student. Same again.  Teachers who seek to be loved usually aren’t.  It’s the teachers who help you learn that are effective in their role.  And they’re the ones you think back on with gratitude ten years later.
  • Politician/citizen. Politicians who want to be loved make terrible decisions for the country.  Truly great leaders are able to look ahead and balance both the short and long-term needs of their constituents.  They’re able to do what’s right, knowing they’ll be despised by a portion of the populace.
  • Boss/employee. Ironically, bosses who seek to be loved by their employees are neither respected nor loved.  However, bosses who seek to do what’s best, what’s in the long-term interest of the organization are at least respected.  And they’re often loved too, although the love may take longer to show up.
  • Employee/company. I have seen lots of examples where people are hurt because they have expectations of their organization that that it will love them.  It won’t.  In fact it can’t, because only people can love you, not organizations.

Let’s be adults here for a minute. Remember:

  • You have a job because a company has figured out a way to bill out your services at a premium.  If you get paid $15/hour, your company has built a process and found a customer who will pay $18 for that same hour of work.  That’s why you have a job.
  • When you stop bringing value, you won’t have a job anymore.
  • This is forgotten all the time by employees.  They leave feeling bitter and used.  But their basic mistake was to look for love in all the wrong places.
  • As a customer, you leave businesses that don’t deliver a service that makes you happy.  If the service at the restaurant is bad, you find a new restaurant. Your company drops you for the same sorts of reasons.
  • You may develop loving relationships at your company, but your company won’t love you.  Don’t seek to be loved by it; seek to bring great value, and you’ll always have a job.
  • Your spouse and your friends are different.  You should seek love from them because they’re your peers.  They are your equals.  But most relationships in your life aren’t peer to peer.  They’re positions where you have a responsibility to deliver value to the other person, including all the examples listed above.

So, do all you can to make your spouse and your friends love you.  In every other relationship, work to bring value and make their lives better.

Thus ends my rant.

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