The Love of Leadership – A Perfect Match
Simply put leaders need to be love makers. I know a little strange for a former HR employee to be shouting from the mountain, but it’s true. No one wants a boss or a leader who’s a hater. We need love makers. We are not in a command – control world. If you are, you’re stuck. We live in a world that’s complex and needs a new set of solutions. Starting at Love is the solution.
I’ve played tennis since was a kid and never could understand why the game started at Love. So, I guess I just get to make up what it means – and to me it’s about the spirit I choose to bring to the court when I play. The type of tennis I play isn’t played in your best tennis-whites, like Wimbledon. I grew up playing on the court with a boom-box and the most unmatched array of shorts and t-shirts. The feeling on the court was great – a spirit as a kid I can’t forget. The same holds true with leadership. It’s a different type of game. A game that still starts at Love.
Here’s 3 lessons leaders need to do to bring Love to their court:
Choose to be you. There is no mold of how to play the game of leadership. Yes, there are great players around – but you need to play your own game. What do you do better than anyone else? Bring that to your game of leadership. Yes, have role models and mentors – AND play your brand of leadership. This is what I really liked about Andre Agassi. Even at the prestigious Bollettieri Academy he played his own game of tennis. But there was still something about him he didn’t want other to know. He wore a wig. It wasn’t until he could be himself – totally, without the hair defining him; he could experience life-changing success. Best of all, long after his days on the court he still makes a mark with his Academy in Vegas.
Open Yourself Up. As a leader you are sometimes on the chopping block, but be open to what people have to say. Encourage them to provide you feedback and ideas. Use some of the things they share. But most of all, allow your self to be on the court and take the heat. If you follow tennis like I do, you know that every time Serena Williams gets called for a foot fault you go back to her US Open match against Cliesters. Will this be the breaking point? Well, yesterday while playing Sloan Stevens (another up and coming American teen), she foot-faulted late in the match. Instead of exploding, she motioned to the line judge to get clarity on which foot. She was open to the input. As leaders how you handle feedback is going to be a key factor in your success with others.
I remember last week while doing a workshop for 200 MN County officers I jumped up on a couple chairs to get my point across and engage them a little differently. I don’t know what came over me, because this was not something I was planning – these were elected officials and county workers surely my jumping on a chair would be a turn off. It wasn’t until I was in the moment that I even noticed what was going on – they were looking up at me with smiles. Almost looking for permission to let go about. I needed the same to just be myself and open up to creating something different. When I could open up to letting go and just be – I got to experience true joy and love – and I think the group did too!
Be Vulnerable. “You can’t be serious!” (typed in my best McEnroe voice). I’m totally serious. For years guys who played me knew how to beat me. Hit it to my backhand. I was guaranteed to slice it back and open myself up to being beat. Over the last two years, I’ve played matches, been in drills and pick-up games where I’d only hit 2-handed backhands. Totally vulnerable. It’s in that place I learned to develop another option and have a stronger game as a result. As a leader, vulnerability isn’t even about weakness – it’s about authenticity. Where do you let others see the real you? When you can do this on a conscious and consistent basis you are known in a much stronger way by others. Letting go of the need for it to be “it’s all good” frees you up to getting stronger. Allowing yourself to redefine vulnerability allows you to succeed on the court and off.
No matter where you lead from – the classroom, your family, your student group or staff – I want you to pick your favorite and lead from that place today. Experience the Love of Leadership for yourself. Tell me about your experiences in the comment section below. But most of allow – choose to LEAD!