By Jas Singh
I grew up in a small English town about 50 minutes drive from London.
It was a pleasant place, right in the middle of the English countryside but with still a relatively modern feel. Thirty years ago, before the full force of corporate expansion, most of the businesses were run by local entrepreneurs.
In particular, there was one man from Kenya who had been particularly successful. He had several highly successful businesses – but what was rare was that hardly any of them seem connected. They were incredibly diverse.
From local pubs to petrol stations to grocery stores. He even owned a dairy that supplied milk to the areas as well as a golf course!
Although a 1980’s version of a monopolist, the people in the town loved him. He was hugely respected and admired. Competition came and went, yet his success just continued to grow. Up until his recent death he was a true pillar of the community.
By total fluke, I happened to run into one of his grandchildren whilst on the train “up north” a few weeks ago. My home town is still a relatively close knit community and many of the families have lived there for generations. At one point we started reminiscing and the subject of his grandfather came up. I asked him why he felt his grandfather had been so respected and also why he had become so successful.
“That’s easy” he immediately replied. “It’s really quite simple. Granddad wasn’t really interested in making money. He just loved people. Everything he did was to try and help people”.
That got me thinking.
How many leaders today do what they do first and foremost because they love people?
Nowadays those who aspire to leadership have other motives. More money. Better career opportunity. A feeling of superiority. A posh title. A chance to go down in history. Even better social recognition.
Dealing with other people’s problems and the stress of being responsible for others is just a price most of us are willing to pay to get there.
Not so the greatest leaders. They love people – full stop. Their drug is not money, fame or new clothes. It’s just to help and positively influence as many people as they can.
Here are some reasons why great leaders love people.
It makes you stand out
Leaders today are under ever increasing pressure. The workplace in particular has become almost purely a results business. Whether it is keeping shareholders happy, winning more votes or getting more hospital patients through the door, it’s all about targets, incentives and profitability.
In such a pressurised environment, management becomes difficult. Often if expectations are high – even unrealistic – then the pressure on leaders is impressed on those who manage. Regularly, leaders thus often use an authoritative attitude – even borderline dictatorship.
We’ve all worked for someone who only called you to their office if you were in trouble. Who barely cracked a smile and who was often distant from the rest of the workforce.
But great leaders love people. They are different – they rarely flaunt their authority and to them serving their people is more important than any pressure from above. The greatest leaders even protect their followers from such pressure.
As a result, they stand out. Leaders who love people are genuine and as a result we all want to work for them. We are inspired by them.
We root for them to win.
Love builds trust
The great thing about loving others is that it is a two way street. However much help and support you show others, it always comes back to you. With interest.
The best relationships any of us will make are made during times of adversity than comfort. It’s those who really help us during our times of need that we remember. We appreciate it and want to return the favour.
Great leaders understand that being interested in others and genuinely loving fellow mankind whenever the opportunity arises is the only way to build trust. Even the most rationalised and evidence based argument in the world will never convince another person to change – as long as the conversation remains an argument. Those we love and who love us, can be convinced of anything.
Great leaders love and trust are closely connected.
Build love first. Then focus on the message you are trying to deliver.
Love is eternal
There is a saying that goes “Those who have truly loved have never lost”.
I couldn’t agree more. Love is perhaps the most powerful emotion that any of us can experience. It’s what connects us to our parents, our children, our passions – everything.
Genuinely loving another builds a connection that is indestructible.
We all remember that childhood best friend, even though we haven’t seen them for decades. We all use that same business associate even though their competitors spend more time and effort to win our business. We still feel sad when an old school teacher who watched out for us dies, even though they have taught thousands of other students.
Great leaders understand that loving others genuinely can build relationships that can last forever. As social creatures we crave love – yet within this increasingly connected world it is harder to find each day. When we do find love, we thrive on it, we hold on to it, we treasure it.
Whether in religion, politics or business – history teaches us one thing:
Leaders who love will be remembered forever.
Great leaders love people. It’s who they are.
Hiring managers should focus on hiring those people who have genuine interest and love towards others – it’s vital to success.
Do you love people?
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