By Marcel Schwantes; originally posted on Inc.com on February 20, 2018.
A few days ago, I was listening to a Higher Purpose podcast where the host, Kevin Monroe, asked his guest Jeff Harmon, a leadership coach and author of The Anatomy of a Principled Leader, about the challenges of using the word “love” in the leadership and workplace sense.
Now before you get an allergic reaction to the word “love” in this sense, Harmon masterfully juxtaposes our often-misconstrued interpretation of love as a “soft” management approach to the actual management approach of one of the toughest and most revered sports icons of all time — the legendary head coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi. Here’s what coach Lombardi once boldly stated:
I don’t necessarily have to like my players and associates but as their leader I must love them. Love is loyalty, love is teamwork, love respects the dignity of the individual. This is the strength of any organization. [emphasis mine]
Keep in mind, this is the same hard-driving Vince Lombardi who also made famous the statement: “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”
That’s why his love quote is even more profound when you think about it. As Harmon pointed out, we often view any notion of leadership and love through the spiritual teachings of historical and religious figures like Ghandi or Jesus of Nazareth.
Perhaps long overdue, the no-nonsense Vince Lombardi slaps us upside the head with a sober understanding of love and leadership even more applicable for the workplace today. Surprisingly for his generation, it was this approach to coaching his players that brought the Packers total dominance in the 1960s, when they conquered five World Championships over a seven-year period (including the first two Super Bowl wins).