One Word That Improves All Leaders

by Sep 28, 2022Insights, Leadership, Professional Development

Love. This word can mean a lot of different things to people. For many of us, it has deep roots that take us back to our childhood, current and past relationships, and even the media bombards us with mixed messages about love. Here is what I know – our ability to show love as leaders is the secret sauce for the performance and health of our teams.

This one word improves all leaders, no matter where they are in an organization. First, let’s make sure we get back to the root definition of love. The ancient Greeks had several words to describe the different kinds of “love.” Eros is the term describing the love around physical touching and sex. That is not the love we are talking about here! The Greeks had two additional words to define love, and today I want to focus on them: agape and phileo.

Agape is a selfless universal love for all, even those who may disagree with us or frustrate us. Many refer to it as unconditional love. Meanwhile, phileo is all about affectionate love, the type of love we experience in friendship. It’s about loyalty to those we care for, and virtue in our actions. Both phileo and agape can occur between any two people, groups, organizations and beyond.

Whether you are a student of Brené Brown, the much-talked-about approach of servant leadership, or you had a mentor who always put people first in decisions, I would argue that at the core of these messages is agape and phileo at work. Team members can tell if their leader cares or not. It’s reflected in everything the leader does. I often talk about how fear motivates in the short-term, but love motivates in the long-term. By leading with agape and phileo you have the potential to motivate your team and build mutual respect that isn’t based on fear, but love.

Just like the leadership approaches mentioned above, at its core EOS is based on the actions associated with agape and phileo love. Paying attention to your team members, truly listening to them and taking their concerns seriously are just a few of the ways you show your team you care about them.

The next time you’re using an EOS tool with your team — whether it’s an L10, a 5-5-5 meeting, or your next IDS session — think about how you’re expressing love to your team. Consider areas where you might improve that skill. If you do, you’ll see a team that reflects more honesty, motivation and trust in everything they do, especially their interactions with you.

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