Leading with Luv.

Watched an episode of Undercover Boss featuring CEO of Lucky Strike – Steven Foster recently and loved it, not because I stumbled on another CEO who puts meditation first [ he said he hasn’t missed his meditation practice in the last 41 years ] but also, because it showed the humane side of Steven. He wasn’t afraid of showing his emotions both on the show as well as with his employees. It resonated with me, for one hardly sees anyone expressing their true emotions at work, except maybe anger and frustration. Anger, I think is probably the only defacto emotion that one can express and no one would raise an eyebrow these days.

And even if someone does express their true emotions of gratitude, joy, love etc. openly they are very quickly labeled and bracketed as nut cases. With more and more workplaces becoming spaces where one is supposed to keep our true feelings out, I guess it becomes blasphemy to talk of Love within workplace.

The first time I heard about the usage of word Love within the context of workplace was through the book Nuts. It was way back in ’97 or ’98 that I picked up a copy of Nuts by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg at a whopping price of INR 750 those days. It was and still continues to occupy the top slot in my book shelf. This was around the same time that I was tasked with leading teams and had an outstanding mentor and manager – CSM – to report into. And on his recommendation, I picked up Peopleware – another brilliant book that anyone leading people should read. More so, those who are in IT. And when I reflect back today, I guess a lot of my beliefs towards leading people were shaped by CSM and he truly had a way with people. While I didn’t realize then, he was probably my first exposure to someone practicing Servant Leadership.

And I guess no other book does justice to describing Servant Leadership in action as well as Nuts does.

So, when I stumbled upon Ken Blanchard’s and Colleen Barrett’s “Lead with Luv“, I wanted to get my hands on it and the folks at Blanchard company were quite generous in lending me a copy. This is a small 150 odd pages book that is essentially a dialogue between Ken and Colleen talking about the servant leadership/Love Leadership philosophy that defined SouthWest Airlines. Colleen started as the exec secretary to Herb Kelleher and ended up succeeding him as the president of SouthWest Airlines. That would have been such an amazing corporate journey.

I think where the book does succeed is in establishing the fact that organizations grow only when they put people first and obviously given the title Ken and Colleen weave in the concept of Love at work. However, I would have loved to have seen more concrete examples. Where I did lose the book, despite reading Corinthians earlier in the concept of Servant Leadership, is where Ken asks Colleen to give her definition of each of the terms, did not come across pretty strong.

Despite that, I liked the book, but would recommend this being read in conjunction with Nuts.


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