Love is the next leadership skill, says Robin Anselmi, the CEO of Conversant, a consultancy, at The Great Leadership Reset conference. By love, she means an authentic connection that helps people, both leaders, and team members, develop and grow. 

Anselmi: “It’s as the biologist Humberto Maturana said: most problems in organizations are not solved by competition. They are solved by the emotion that helps expand creativity and resilience. That emotion is love – it makes us smarter together.”

That’s why her consultancy firm focuses on improving performance and results is through conversation and human connection. “Both are underutilized assets in organizational life, yet we know they are critical leverage points for achieving results. At Conversant, we catalyze change through high-value conversation. Whether your challenge is in performance, strategy alignment, culture, leadership, collaboration, or beyond, the conversations are the work, and there is a design to conversations that produce meaningful, enduring results.

Nurture growth

This for me is a fundamental role of leadership: to nurture the growth of others. For that, you need love. It has the power to transform leaders, and they have the power to create joy-filled, satisfying work experiences for their employees. People that find meaning and joy in their work show up differently with their colleagues, customers, and their families, too.

In our workplaces, being a leader who loves means asking ourselves:

  • Am I willing to let go of my own opinions to explore another’s for the sake of their growth or the organization’s growth (vs. defending my own ego)?
  • Am I willing to courageously share feedback with others, prioritizing it over my own comfort? (When we say we’re worried about how someone will take feedback or input, what we really mean is we’re worried if we’ll be uncomfortable with their response.)
  • Am I willing to take risks and support others in taking those risks for the sake of their own growth?
  • Am I willing to courageously invite feedback?
  • Am I willing to be open and vulnerable about the places I know I need to grow for the sake of our collective growth?

Anselmi’s talk at the conference resonates with many other thought leaders, such as Ronald Fry who said that in the VUCA-world, everything happens through conversation and connection. Or Chris Laszlo who said “Leaders need a greater purpose and a consciousness of connectedness. We need to go beyond rational thinking and re-awaken our intuition and experiences – our personal connection to nature, the past and the future, to others, to our bodies and emotions.” Laslzo wants a leadership revolution to create flourishing enterprises that can positively impact the effects of climate change.

It’s time for change

Anselmi’s firm walked their talk when they issued a statement in June 2020 titled “It’s time for change”, saddened by everything that happened to the Black community in the USA. It started with: “We are committed to an inclusive, just society without domination and abuse. a world where Black lives more than matter – where Black lives and contributions are recognized as additive to us all.”

Anselmi: “We wanted to have a positive impact. We wondered: How do we use our privilege? How will our firm evolve? We decided to actively seek black leaders and more stakeholders and listen to them.”

The firm then started a “re-enchantment process” to redefine its purpose, vision, and core values. “We did a bottom-up, not top-down process, worldwide, and organized conversations with employees, clients, and new people. It was magic.”

Awaken the world

Their vision became: We awaken the world to the power and joy of authentic human connection, setting a new standard for leadership that produces meaningful, enduring impact.

Anselmi: “Wow, awaken the world, that feels bold! But that was the outcome of these conversation rounds. How do we do that? We decided it was a promise. The promise is:

We are purposeful present to authenticity, community, love, wonder, and difference. It’s our true north. The process was a re-awakening of who we are, our bond. Our employees talk about what this means to them, it’s energizing and makes us feel proud.”

“We’re all human, so we are annoyed, impatient, pissed-off sometimes. But we can’t collaborate without love. That means compassion and forgiveness. Since we went through this process our integrity is better. We can now help other organizations better as we’ve been through these meaningful conversations and it’s easier to walk the talk of love.”

But does love sell in a business context? “To get at the table with business clients you have to talk about effectiveness and efficiency. But love is the force of business”, laughs Anselmi. I recognize this. Once I’ve got the assignment to develop a positive culture to raise the bottom line, I’m working with love. 

  • How can I be a better colleague to you? 
  • How can I be a better leader to you? 
  • How can I be a better human to you?

PS: Do you enjoy my books and blog? Please vote for Marcella Bremer in the Top 30 Organizational Culture Global Gurus before December 15. Thank you!

© Marcella Bremer, 2021. All rights reserved.

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