Aside

On Leadership and Love

This week’s email featured an essay from Harvard Business Review by Umair Haque on leadership called “How and Why to be a Leader (not a Wannabe).  I enjoyed reading it, especially because Haque touched on the subject of love and leadership, something we’re a little too afraid to talk about in the “business world.”  This is what he said:

Leadership — true leadership —is a lost art. Leaders lead us not to a place — but to a different kind of destination: to our better, truer selves. It is an act of love in the face of an uncertain world.

Perhaps, then, that’s why there’s so little leadership around: because we’re afraid to even say the word love — let alone to feel it, weigh it, measure it, allow it, admit it, believe it, and so be transformed by it.

….We’re afraid, you and I, of this word: love.  Afraid of love because love is the most dangerously explosive substance the world has ever known, will ever know, and can ever know. Love is what frees the enslaved and enslaves the free. Because love, finally, is all: all we have, when we face our final moments, and come to know that life, at last, must have been greater than us if we are to feel as if it has mattered.

The old men say: children, you must never, ever believe in love. Love is heresy. Believe in our machines. Believe in operation and calculation. Place your faith in being their instruments. Our perfect machines will bring you perfection.

I believe lives as cold as steel will only yield a world as cruel as ice. I believe cool rationality and perfect calculation can take us only a tiny distance towards the heart of what is good, true, and timelessly noble about life. Because there is no calculus of love. There is no equation for greatness. There is no algorithm for imagination, virtue, and purpose.

Even a perfect machine is just a machine.

If we are to lead one another, we will need the heresy of love. We must shout at yesterday in the language of love if we are to lead one another. Not just to tomorrow, but to a worthier destination: that which we find in one another.

It’s often said that leaders “inspire.” But that’s only half the story. Leaders inspire us because they bring out the best in us. They evoke in us our fuller, better, truer, nobler selves. And that is why we love them — not merely because they paint portraits of a better lives, but because they impel us to be the creators of our own.

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