“People problems” challenge even the most experienced leaders. The list of challenges is long: holding others accountable, dealing with performance issues, challenging the status quo, speaking up and using their voice, working with “challenging” colleagues, and building authentic relationships with internal or external stakeholders.
When faced with these people problems, leaders can find themselves avoiding perceived ‘difficult’ conversations; procrastinating; withholding their voice; becoming passive; or tolerating interpersonal friction or damaged client partnerships.
All despite knowing that it's not serving them, and that there are very real consequences.
Team performance can suffer. Projects get delayed or even thrown off-course. Organizations miss out on opportunities for innovation or improvement. Sales are lost.
In other words, addressing these people problems is usually pretty important to leaders.
Not one of these leaders has come to me saying “I need to work on being more loving” or “I’d like to be more heart-centred”.
We don’t often think of love as the solution to our biggest people problems. We think about tactical approaches to conversations, or how to change our beliefs, or maybe about how we can calm our nerves.
We don’t think about love because we tend to view love through a narrow lens (i.e. in the romantic sense) or because we believe love and accountability are mutually exclusive.
But we can look beyond that narrow view of love, and see that love is actually foundational to dealing with people challenges in leadership.
In fact, the outcomes that leaders want in these situations are often dependent on their ability to be more loving or heart-centred.
Embodied love in leadership is demonstrating courage, compassion, trust and generosity.
Courage allows us to boldly yet kindly address situations and issues from the heart. When we are heart-centred it creates openness and willingness for others to listen, because they know that a leader has their best interests in mind.
Compassion allows us to connect at a deeper level by ensuring that others feel seen and heard. This is what fosters truly open and transparent communication.
Trust allows people to perform at their best, because when others have faith in our abilities and take us at our word, we are more likely to operate without fear. Trust says “I see your capabilities” and others tend to respond by rising to even our highest expectations.
Generosity shows people that we are here for them, that we are of service. It shows others that we care more about the greater good than our own self-interests. It creates a sense of “we” versus “you and me”.
Together, these are the very qualities that allow us to more effortlessly move through any and all ‘people problems’.
Love truly is the answer.
If you are encountering “people problems” in your leadership, here are a few powerful questions that may help you look at the situation differently:
What qualities of embodied love are being called forth in this situation?
How might responding with courage, compassion, trust or generosity shift the dynamic of the situation?
If I take a step back and root myself in love, in what ways does this situation look different?