A Manager’s Job Is To Love

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Back in March, I had a lovely woman approach me after training and ask if I remembered who she was. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place her. She indicated she had been in a manager training that I had done back in 2014. Very graciously, she said the training proved useful to this day. I was humbled and touched by her statement. When I asked what her big takeaway was, she said, “You told us the manager’s real job is to love. I think about that every single day; how can I show love to my employees.”

With everything currently going on in the world, I think we’d all agree that more love would be a great balm to everyone’s weary soul. Usually when people speak of love, it’s the stuff of sappy movies, complete with predictable plots and lush string music. Now I am definitely not against any of that, but the truth is, love is actually hard work and certainly not for the faint of heart.

At this point, you might be thinking, maybe, but I’m going to need to know more before I can buy in. That’s fair, so please allow me to explain further…

Years ago, I heard a pastor say, “Love is not a feeling, it’s an action.” He continued on, noting that “Love is when you put someone else’s needs before your own.”

Although this thought wasn’t one that I had heard before, I had no trouble buying into the idea. When we put our own needs in front of others, it creates a host of problems, while considering others and acting on that consideration shows great care and respect.

It’s really no secret that Kerri and I love all parts of the work we do, but there’s nothing that delights us more than working with managers. Whether it’s a front-line supervisor, team leader or a middle manager, they are truly the force multipliers in an organization. The expectation is they will take a message, effort or initiative and be the ones who really move it forward. This kind of responsibility must be tended with great care. These people need to know how to DO specific things that make the work happen and support the employees who will ultimately accomplish it.

The best managers are ones who step into problems and put their own comfort aside as they have difficult conversations, provide adjusting feedback and vigilantly hold people accountable. Of course, they also get to celebrate success and see their staff accomplish great things, but it’s the hard tasks that really separate the wheat from the chaff.

When people indicate they are ready to move toward management, we like to find out what is motivating them. If it’s for their own ego or with some misguided belief they will have more power, we do everything possible to discourage them. (Seriously, the world has enough of this already.) People most suited for management make the transition from focusing on their own success to how they can propel others to greatness.

Wherever you are in an organization or in life, consider how you can go from “me to we.” Maybe you hold your tongue so as not to hurt someone’s feelings. Perhaps you step back and let someone else enjoy the spotlight without needing any of the warmth for yourself. It could even be something like listening more actively when you disagree with another’s point of view. Doing any of these things puts their needs before your own and actively demonstrates love.

At the end of the day, the only thing that changes people is love. Nothing else has the power to provide the kind of safety and freedom that allows people to flourish, becoming their best selves. And if you get enough people showing love? Well I am pretty sure we can change the world.