It was unheard of 20 or 30 years ago to regard love as a construct within management or leadership theory. However, with turbulent VUCA times, with employee engagement at all-time lows, with millennials and Gen Z workers wanting more purpose and meaning in their work, it is time for a concept like “love” to be taken seriously within the workplace. If philosophers, psychologists, and sages throughout time have viewed love as the highest form of evolutionary energy, shouldn’t “love” be included as part of a mechanism for leadership?
I believe self-love is a pre-requisite for great leadership in these modern, complex times.
What is Self-Love?
Self-love can get a bad rap by some seeing it as selfish or narcissistic. Quite the contrary, self-love is the foundation for mature and generous living.
Self- love means having a high regard for your own well-being.
It means taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health; asking for what you need at work to be your best.
It looks like trusting yourself, asserting boundaries, and an overall deeper connection to yourself, which in turn connects you more deeply with others. When you walk into a room (or Zoom room these days), you are exquisitely comfortable in your own skin which equates to a strong presence; people feel comfortable and freer when they are around you.
When you don’t have self-love, you are plagued by feelings of not being good enough. You are looking for validation and affirmation from others to satisfy that part of you that doesn’t feel worthy. In worst-case scenarios, you bully others to make yourself feel better.
If you are a leader and inside of your head is a tornado of negative thoughts, how do you think that translates into your company culture?
Imagine inside of you is a cup. In reality, this cup is completely full because it is our natural state to be in the energy of love; self-love is recognizing that love is our natural state and taking the steps necessary to remain in that state.
When you don’t have self-love, you believe your cup is empty or missing something so you’re constantly looking for things to fill it. In the workplace this can look like needing constant validation for your work, taking feedback personally, needing to make a certain income or have a certain status to fill it up, in relationships this looks like needing someone’s love to fill it up. The list goes on. When you truly get how to love yourself, you don’t need anything outside of you to feel good. This is not to say you don’t deeply enjoy relationships and success and status, but you don’t need it.
When your own needs are met, only then can you see others with clarity. When you trust yourself, you can trust others and create cultures based on trust within your organization. Self-love is at the heart of authenticity, servant leadership, empathy, care for employees, and the ability to listen which are all linked to leadership traits that have been found to encourage employee engagement.
Looking at your own relationship with yourself can be scary at first which is why I think a lot of people avoid this kind of work. Most people even dismiss the idea that they have an issue with self-love. Of course, I love myself. I challenge you to start tuning in to your inner self-talk and notice how much of it is loving vs how much is negative and critical. The path to self-love is one that involves openness and a willingness to see clearly what is there. It’s not “fluffy” work; it takes deep courage to confront the parts of you that need healing. My belief is that one day, just as leaders are taught business acumen, decision making, and strategic thinking skills, that they will be taught how to practice self-love with the underlying belief that these “soft and fluffy” skills are crucial for creating cultures of engagement and innovation needed to thrive in business in the 21st century.
Interested in exploring how self-love influences your leadership? DM me or visit AmyLewisCoaching.com and schedule a complimentary discovery session to learn how coaching can support you.