Vail Valley Voices: What’s love got to do with leadership? |

Vail Valley Voices: What’s love got to do with leadership?

John Horan-Kates
Vail, CO, Colorado

At the Vail Leadership Institute, we define love as that quality in relationships that honors and appreciates others. It’s the feeling of kindness or brotherhood toward others.

And because leadership is mostly about people, a slightly broader understanding of this principle can be pretty helpful.

For many leaders, the concept of love seems soft, and it can be very hard to express love to others. Given how people can sometimes be angry or selfish, it’s very challenging not to get caught up in that negativity.

Using technology lingo, a cover story in Fast Company magazine was headlined “Love Is the Killer App” and stated, “Compassion and empathy aren’t management tools to be pulled out when needed; they’re character traits most great leaders possess.”

To actually lead by example with love and compassion is really more challenging than just powering over others. You’ve got to be well grounded, and a strong foundation in your spiritual perspective can help.

The biblical plea to “love your neighbor as yourself” starts with loving yourself. Those ancient Scriptures also say that love contains many component parts: patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness and sincerity.

Love is the key to good relationships. Getting things done with and through others is central to running any organization.

Love is about respect, openness, compassion, gratitude and caring. Most certainly the Golden Rule embodies love.

Werner Erhard captured it uniquely when he wrote, “You don’t have to go looking for love when it’s where you come from.”

From a leadership perspective, expressing gratitude is an attitude. It’s a way of looking at everything as a gift. Being appreciative of your talents, your energy, your relationships, your resources – of everything really – is a function of an attitude of gratitude. And this attitude flows from loving relationships.

In Patricia Aburdene’s excellent book “MegaTrends 2010 – The Rise of Conscious Capitalism,” she describes why and how the powers of love and spirituality are the greatest megatrends of our era. She claims that the “cornerstone of effective leadership is self-mastery.”

If change is needed in our world, and if you reject the ego-driven culture, then you need a powerful force greater than yourself to make these changes. That influence can be love.

So how can you incorporate this principle into your relationships at work?

John Horan-Kates is the president of the Vail Leadership Institute in Edwards. He can be reached at 970-926-7800 or

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