Leading with love

The 20th of May, 5.20 is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine's day. The reason for the day is that the sound of the characters vaguely sounds like “wo ai ni,” the Chinese for  "I love you." Love is a word which is often casually used, but what is the real meaning of this word? “Strong feeling of affection” is what most dictionaries will bring up, but even these meaning can be fairly abstract. When I learned the Chinese character 爱 meaning love, I found a way to express the way I use and understand the word "love." 

This is my way of explaining and illustrating the character "love," though not necessarily the correct language character explanation.

I see the first stroke as heaven, with the following three below illustrating rain and other bad elements coming from above. Moving to the bottom part of the character in simplified Chinese, you see the character depicting "friend." If you add a roof that shields a friend from the rain, you have love and in the traditional character you also add a  heart 心。 If you shield a friend from the elements with your heart, this is in my definition love. So if I were to merge it with the English  definition it would sound something like, “to shield a friend with your heart and affection from elements that hurt and do them harm.”

Why is it so important to truly understand and explain a self-explanatory word like love?

Because we all have different values and beliefs and the same supposed simple word may have a different meaning to people. In close relationships, love and lust are often confused. Love for one’s children and children for their parents are deep bonds of care and affection. We live in a culture and environment Nowhere these close bonds of affection and empathy are being replaced by less connecting electronic communication. Technology is here to stay and it will evolve and evolve even faster over the next few decades. What is our human advantage over AI technology? In my opinion, this is emotions and feelings. Cultures are driven by humans and their ability to positively or negatively connect with each other. We transmit mirror neurones which helps us to empathise. Though robots can be programmed and developed to mimic many of the brain's functions, they still use algorithms programmed by humans.

Creating cultures in the home and at work that nurture and project love and empathy is what will give us a competitive advantage. We remember people who connect with you, who give us time and make us feel valued. These are the things that bring the best out of a leader's followers. To be an empathetic, leader it is important to understand their own view of the world and how they interact with these values and beliefs. To become a 21st  leader, it is important to learn these skills and to truly understand oneself before we can help others to improve and become their best selves. This is what Mimir Globals mission is to support leaders on their journey to higher performance.

Leading with love and empathy is the skills set of future leaders.

This article was first published on Mimir Consulting Official Wechat account 31 January 2018

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