Week 11-April 5, 2009

Chapter 13

Awh…!! What an endearing way to end a book—really a manual!—called “The Leadership Challenge.”

It ends on a good note; one will be hard-pressed to feel dejected after reading: “leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart (p. 351).” And this is all too apparent in the preceding comments especially as Jody shares about how she overcame her fears and just let her love for the technical sides of the funeral business overtake her! ;o)

So Stacey asks:

What role has love played in your experiences as leaders? Do you agree that is “the secret to success?

I think love has always played the role in my leadership experience. This is because, one does not often choose to be a leader, but may feel called, compelled to address a need, thus, facing some challenging situations. And these situations are often unwelcome or uneasy, so I have often found myself questioning the worth. I find that it is this love and vision I have for a group, project, or issue that has me remaining in the leadership role. For example, I recently decided to stay on the BGAPSA (Black Graduate and Professional Students Association) board for the next year. I was going to excuse myself from these responsibilities but there are still some things I would like to see happen, and would like the opportunity to positively influence our community. And I’m sure we can all agree that when we’re leading with love, more than just duty it inspires us and those around us, and it is often the recipe for a successful and durable outcome. For me, my responsibility to meet a collective need often outweighs my personal need to have more time for myself. I just hope, in this instance, I won’t regret leading from my heart instead of my head!


I think I may have mentioned this, but I do work full time in addition to running the gallery. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays I also have class. I work, then go to school, then go home and work on things for the gallery, or sometimes I have meetings after school, etc.

There is absolutely no way I would have the energy to do all of this if I didn't really have a passion for what I was doing or if I didn't love the people I work with. There's no way I could fake it, there's just no way I could even do it. I have a really hard time pretending to be excited about something I'm not excited about or something I don't really believe in.

I don't think it is a wishy-washy notion of love. I really think it is an energizing feeling. To compare it to the romantic version of love - I guess in a way it is like that first period of falling in love, where running seems easier and the world seems a little bit more breezy and lighter. At times, loving what I do gives me that feeling. It gives me more energy, and in general it makes me a more patient person. Perhaps more importantly, it seems to be contagious to the people I work with while we're working.

I'm not perfect, who is? There have been nights and times when I've really been drained and tired or frustrated. But I think those draining times have almost been more important then the super-awesome-happy times. Because I love what I do, I was willing to make it work, to work hard to make it work well. Not just to let exist, but to make it sustainable. Because I love the people I work with, I try to foster an environment that is supportive and constructive, so we can learn from anybody's past frustration and avoid those types of situations in the future.

Before this, I guess never thought about "love" in association with leadership, or leadership in terms of love. Enthusiasm, maybe even passion... but never love, at least not in a conventional sense. Now that I think about, I think that does have a lot to do with what I consider "success." (Though I'm not sure it is a secret.) :)

After reading the chapter, I found that love has played a huge role in the leadership positions I have been in. Especially after reading the comments, I found myself reflecting on my experiences at the nonprofit I work for. The program can be very energy consuming, especially when there are only a few moments during the summer that you have to yourself without having to worry about supervising youth, or making sure you are performing to your best potential for those around you. However, I am by far not the only who has returned many years to work with the youth in a such a special setting. I look to my sister who has been working with our summer program for 9 years, I truely see the love she has not only for the program, but with her position as the camp director, and for instilling the same love in her other staff members and the youth. While I feel a similar love, I know hers is inspirational to those around her each day.
I know that there is love involved, because I find that I talk about our summer program to potential youth and summer staff whenever there is an opportunity. I have even found myself talking to a daughter and her dad outside a bathroom at a State Park prior to leaving on a trip.
I think compassion is a key to success, and love makes it that much more attainable and sustainable, go love!

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs