Thursday, April 2, 2015

love one another

On this Manudy Thursday (the first day of the Triduum in Holy Week), I want to pause and write what may be one of the most distinguishing factors of great leaders and great organizations - what it means to love one another.  The term "Maundy" (which comes from the Latin and means command) is a reference to the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples in John 13:34 where he says, "A new command I give you: love one another as I have loved you."  While Maundy Thursday is often associated with Jesus washing his disciples' feet and the institution of the Lord's Supper, the term Maundy has to do with loving one another.  So what does loving one another have to do with leadership ad organiations?  Let me share a few ideas:

  • most leaders and organizations spend time learning and practicing the "hard" skills and might ignore the "soft" skills.  There is nothing easy or soft about loving others - in fact, it may be the hardest thing leaders and organizations have to do. Given that leadership is about people, learning how to love may be the most important skill leaders can learn.
  • love is more than a feeling - it is a set of actions that people put into place toward one another.  How people treat each other, how they behave with each other, and how they think about each other defines the culture of any organization.  Peter Drucker noted that "Culture eats strategy of breakfast" (at least we think he said it).  If that is true, then love is a pretty important part of a strong and healthy culture.
  • people often confuse love with romance, imaging it as something that can only happen between a few others in our lifetime.  Love is a deep feeling for others, something that emantes from the mind as well as the heart.  Love is not a zero-sum game...there is enough to go around for everyone.  And as is oftne noted, the more one loves others, the more they are loved back.
  • my mother used to tell me that I didn't have to like everyone, but I had to love everyone.  While the statement at first confused me, I soon realized how important it was to love everyone in my circles.  Loving them meant that I saw them as important people who had gifts to offer the world.  Not everyone had to be my best friend (those who I truly liked), but everyone had to be shown honor and respect.
  • love for others is lived out in different ways - it may include a simple "hello" when you see them, it may be a note of thanks that comes from out of the blue, it may be allowing them to have a voice at the table, it may be honoring them by remembering their name, it may be asking them about theri children or family, it may be including them in a conversation, it may be__________________.  Everyone experiences love from others in different ways.  Knowing what that way consists of is often an act of love in itself.
  • love sometimes leads to difficult decisions, and can result in outcomes that are less than desirable for others.  Often times in organizations we mistake loving others as allowing people to get away with bad behavior and not holding them accountable for their actions.  I know that my mother and father loved me, and yet there were times they had to remind me of my bad behavior and exert a little pressure.  The same is true in leadership and organizations - where there is no accountability there is no love.
  • love is a daily decision to be made, and it can be a difficult decision at times.  Because we are finite individuals who often look first to self interests, people will clash with one another and cause hurt and pain among each other.  Walking into the organization and truly loving those with whom one works is a hard task...and it is a task well worth the energy.
It is my prayer that organizations will be known for how they love one another. I also beleive that this type of behavior begins with leaders, and how they love those with whom they work.  When Jesus gave this new command to his disciples, he followed it up by showing them what that love looked like.  It went beyond washing their ended with him suffering death on the cross for their eternal salvation.  While I would never ask a leader to sacrfice themeselvess and their lives (realtionships, marriages, health, etc) for the sake of an organization (remember that God is God and we are not), leaders who give their all for the good of the organization and the people who work there exhibit a type of love that commands attention from others - and that can make all the difference in the world.

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