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Nitish Mukherjee

The author is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion

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Dark Roast Double Shot: Let Love Lead Leadership

To the bigger question of whether love can be created, the answer again is yes. That is where rests the biggest learnings for leaders and leadership.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock


It was late in the evening. Most people had wrapped up their work for the day and left. A few young men were standing around in the aisle chatting in fortissimo tones. A strikingly handsome young man was sitting at his desk bent over the keyboard hurriedly typing away, the tension in his body testimony to his intent of getting through his work in the shortest possible time.

A new airline had just been launched and as most of the men were on a flight very often, conversation had turned into a comparison of the beauty quotient of hostesses in various airlines. Amidst the jousting of preferences, one person probably with an intent of engaging the young man still at his desk turned around and shot the question “Hey, you took a flight last week. Did you think the air hostesses were pretty?”. Pat came the reply “Why would I be even looking to see if someone is pretty when I have a beautiful wife at home who I can see whenever I wish for however long I want.” The group of men suddenly fell silent. The answer hadn’t come as a retort. There was a sense of honesty and integrity in it that was palpable. Being a small office, everyone knew that as a couple they were at the diametrically opposite ends of stereotypical beauty definitions of those times. The group melted away as if shamed into silence. The young man switched off the computer, shouldered his bag and rushed down to the lobby where his wife had just arrived to walk home together. 

Three decades ago, I witnessed this incident from a distance as I stood talking to another colleague and yet it left a salutary effect on me. It started me on the journey of discovering and understanding the power of love and how it can be transformational. Love that is not limited to being between two people or between an individual and their divinity or for the work that one does, but the very essence of any interaction that creates a virtuous cycle of positivity. 

To the question whether love happens? Yes, it does, when many things fall in place either in an instant or over time. To the bigger question of whether love can be created the answer again is yes. That is where rests the biggest learnings for leaders and leadership.

Love is so powerful a concept that playwrights, poets, lyricists, artists, sculptors, moviemakers through the ages have tried to capture its many dimensions in their work. To be in love with someone or something is considered to be the most remarkable achievement at an individual level. Nations and religions pride themselves when they evoke that response in multitudes of people. 

It has been argued that love teaches you the value of intimacy, passion and commitment that are essential to good leadership. But all these are outcomes. What are the fundamental forces that drive them? What is it that you can ‘do’ from the learnings in love that can create these outcomes? Here are three that can transmogrify your leadership style and results. 

Focus on the positives
Have you ever noticed that when you are in love with someone or something, how the positive features seem to shine through and light up your life? How you see incomparable value in it. It seems worth everything because you focus on all that is good. It is not just what is there, it is as much of what that focus does to you. That excitement, that joy, that rush of adrenalin can move mountains.

That action of falling in love happened because something within you made the choice to focus on certain positive factors. There may have been negatives as well but very often they don’t seem to matter as much.

When it comes to leadership that ability to focus intensely both individually and collectively on the positive aspects of people and organisational abilities enables maximum output and efficiency in a manner that is sustainable over time.

Interestingly, when you celebrate the positive it also enhances your ability to deal with the negative aspects. It lowers the barriers of acceptance and defence of what is wrong or needs to be worked upon. When self-worth is not in question, embracing change is easier.

Respect and honour always
Immutable mutual respect and unwavering commitment to promises is at the heart of true love and great leadership. Respect not just in behavioural terms but as a deep-rooted belief in other people’s ability and worth. Valuing their views even when they differ from your own. Accepting that in the context of respect, everyone is equal irrespective of rank or position. 

When you honour a commitment that was made, it builds trust which is the most valuable asset in interpersonal or group dynamics. It is a force multiplier that migrates organisations into institutions.

Dream together
Love cannot bloom if you have your dreams and I have mine and organisations cannot thrive if your dreams are not mine. Dreaming together creates an emotional bonding with the outcome. It becomes a shared enterprise where shouldering responsibility is not carrying someone else’s baggage. 

People often ask how thousands of people in any organisation can have the same dream? Great leaders create dreams that are exciting, audacious, challenging and inspiring. But that is not where they stop. They help others visualise that dream and their role in it. That is when they can dream together.

If ever there was a time for the tenets of love to lead the way for leadership it is definitely in the post pandemic world when a lot of truths have come home to roost. Where vulnerabilities of not just the invincible individuals, but even that of nation-states, have been on prime-time display. We would have been in a better place if we had a better culture of sharing and acknowledging our vulnerabilities. These tenets of leadership will pave the way for that.

If you were indeed to make an attempt to follow the three simple things mentioned here you will realise how difficult it is to practise them in real life. It entails shedding many prejudices and biases. For many there will be more easy and expedient ways.

But then no one ever said that the road to true love and great leadership was easy.             

You can DM me on LinkedIn or write in to [email protected]

(Nitish Mukherjee is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion.)