That’s the title of the Beatles 1967 hit.

I agree, and think it applies to leadership too. As a leader, do you love your staff? All the time or just when they do things “your way” or don’t make mistakes?

Great leaders must love their staff in a self-sacrificing way. Servant leaders put their staff first, it’s job # 1 for them, and they are willing to do what’s needed to bring out the best in them. Sometimes staff need to hear your affirming words, at other times they need to be challenged because they haven’t given all they can give, sometimes you have to push them and most importantly there are times you must speak the truth to them and hold them accountable.

Let me give you an example. I remember a conversation years ago with Mary about a staff member Brad. As we talked it was clear he was not a great employee as she gave me multiple examples to prove her point (although there was very little documentation in his file) and she was frustrated by him. She told me she wanted him to have a “second chance” by transferring him to another department, hoping a new leader would help. As I dug into Brad’s file, I found he’d been transferred 3 times previously, under similar circumstances. Instead of dealing with Brad, everyone just transferred him to someone else.  No one loved Brad enough to talk honestly to him about his shortcomings, help him get either better or find a new opportunity in a new organization. Not dealing with Brad wasn’t good for him or for any team he worked on.

Doing the hard things is the job of a leader. It shows the employee you care about them as well as the rest of the team. In scripture, we are reminded that discipline is connected to love.

A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them. Proverbs 13:24 (MSG)

If you really love your staff, you don’t hold onto shortcomings either, i.e., no grudges. Carol struggled with that, she couldn’t forget a failure of a staff member who let her and the team down in a critical situation. As I listened to her story, I knew she had every right to be angry, until I found out it happened six years ago. Carol didn’t have love; she had a grudge. Nothing the employee could do was ever enough because of that grudge.

The greatest scripture on love comes from 1st Corinthians.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

This weekend, my Pastor connected love to leadership in his sermon. He closed by inserting the word leader or leaders into that same text. I loved it and believe it describes a great leader. Here it is:

Leaders are patient and kind. Leaders do not envy, do not boast and are not proud.  A leader does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered and keep no record of wrongs. A leader does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  A leader always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

If you want to be a great leader, begin with loving your team. When they know you love them, they will do amazing work.


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