Friends with Benefits

     I used to be one of those guys that thought that work had to be separate from the rest of my life. I used to think you couldn’t be friends with the people you lead. Most of the men and women I’ve mentored under would tell you the same thing. Getting personal with people who are accountable to you and who you’re accountable for makes life risky for a leader because the lines get blurred. You open yourself up to being seen as unfair or playing favorites.
     If you’re reading this because you are a leader in your heart and not just in your job title then chances are you either have a desire for power and influence or a desire to help people. If you’re in it just for the power and influence, I implore you to please talk to a professional who can help you work through that because if you’re not careful power and influence will become as much of a drug as heroin is to any addict and the things you’ll do to maintain it will destroy lives. If you care about people, however, don’t allow yourself to be trapped into thinking being “in charge” means you can’t show how much you care about the people who work for you.
     Just like with everything else a leader does, leading with love requires practice, dedication to principle, and intentional action. Treating someone with love doesn’t mean you overlook wrong doing, in fact it may manifest in the way in which you hold someone accountable. At a minimum you ought to explain to the person that the consequences of the wrong doing have been chosen by you specifically to convey that you care about them as a person and don’t want to see them go any further down the wrong road.
     Leading with love doesn’t mean the love overrides the leading, it means caring enough to bring people along to a better place. It means showing people that they are involved in providing a product or service that matters to people. It means letting them see that you recognize that they have sold hours and days and months and years and in some cases decades of their lives into what you’re doing. It means leading in a way that is worthy of their time and efforts and a large chunk of their lives. It means knowing that your business doesn’t turn a profit unless what you and they are doing is worth more to a lot of people than what they’re getting paid for doing it. It means being humble enough to serve. It means giving something of yourself away. What is love if not that?


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