Why Leaders Must Learn to Love their People

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Even the most successful organizations need strong, empathetic leaders who understand the importance of loving their people.

This guide will help you build leadership skills that foster an environment of trust and support so that everyone in your organization can thrive.

What Do I Mean by Love?

The word ‘Love’ is used in many ways. Many artists sing about love, poems are written about love and so it is not a surprise that when we hear the word love, our first response is to think about romantic love – the emotional kind.

For this reason, some people are not comfortable using this word in the workplace. Hence, definitions of words matter. When I use the word ‘Love’ in this article I am talking about love the verb, not the emotion. I am referring to the action, not the feelings, the behaviours that people use to build healthy relationships with others regardless of how they feel.

The main problem we face is the English language only has one word for ‘Love’, while the Greek language is able to express the distinctions among the various types of love- Eros – is the romantic love, Philos is the love you have for your friends – Storge is the natural affection you have between family members while the word ‘Agape’ is the choice of doing what is best for others. In this article it is agape love we are referring to.

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As a coach, you happen to get to work with many ego driven leaders that see loving their people as a sign of weakness. Yet many of these organisations have low engagement, low retention and their people don’t take ownership.

Recently, we are seeing a shift in mindset on this topic and we now have some great role models that have proved that caring for their people in action and not just by words does make a huge difference.

Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller with a staff of over 12,000 learnt that treating every employee like family leads to happy and productive people.

Army Colonel Joe Ricciardi shares how a little advice went further than he ever expected. While being deployed to lead 2000 soldiers in Afghanistan, he was told; “just love your soldiers” he happened to take the advice to heart and saw his people flourish.

Since then Ricciardi has received a Ph.D in values-driven leaders and has observed that “a team member who feels ‘loved’ by his boss is significantly more likely to see his boss as a good leader.”

Below are 5 ways leaders can demonstrate this love for their people.

1. Get to Know Your People

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The best way to learn how to love your people is to get to know them.

Spend time talking with each person in your organization over time and ask thoughtful, open-ended questions. Listen carefully to what they have to say and make an effort to really understand their unique interests and needs.

Showing interest in them will go a long way towards creating a positive work environment.

You can also do this as a Manager of a sub-team or department as it may be impossible for a CEO to reach each individual.

2. Motivate Your Team

As a leader, it’s important to have healthy ways of motivating your team. Appreciation and recognition are key components of any successful motivational strategy.

Make sure to acknowledge the efforts of employees by offering praise and verbal rewards when appropriate. Taking time to recognize the contributions made by individuals will boost morale and help motivate them to do even better in the future.

3. Nurture Collaboration

Collaboration is essential for any successful organization. As a leader, it’s important to foster an environment that encourages team collaboration by eliminating barriers and encouraging open communication.

Create opportunities for your employees to work together on projects, discuss new ideas and brainstorm solutions. Making sure everyone’s voice is heard will help create more productive working relationships between people and make them feel valued within the organization.

4. Set Clear Goals and Expectations

As a leader, it’s important to set clear goals and expectations for your team members. Remember that every person has different talents, capabilities and strengths, so give specific instructions and be as detailed as possible.

Explain why certain tasks are important and how they will be beneficial in the success of the team or organization’s overall goal. Additionally, make sure to provide timely feedback on their progress so they can stay focused and motivated to reach those goals.

5. Celebrate Successes & Acknowledge Contributions

Leaders should also take the time to celebrate successes, and recognize individual contributions to a team’s success. Show appreciation for employees by rewarding them with special recognition or offering them more responsibility in their role.

This encourages team members to keep trying and pushing themselves to go even further. Acknowledge good work verbally and let your people know that you appreciate their effort by offering positive reinforcement whenever possible.


As our leadership paradigm continues to evolve, we are going to see more leaders realizing that this is the key to engagement, empowerment and most importantly, how leaders can have greater influence among the people they lead. As the saying goes, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

Which of these 5 ideas can help you become a more loving leader?

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About the Author

Toye Oshunbiyi

Founder & CEO Business Leaders Coach

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