Finding Success in Leadership

As some of you may know, I’ve been doing my Masters Degree in Leadership. A little while ago I came across this quote from Kouzes and Posner’s book “The Leadership Challenge.”

“We asked John how he’d go about developing leaders, whether in colleges and universities, in the military, in government, in the non profit sector, or in private business. He replied,

‘When anyone asks me that question, I tell them I have the secret to success in life. The secret to success is to stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have a greater desire to get things done than other people. A person who is not in love doesn’t really feel the kind of excitement that helps them to get ahead and to lead others and to achieve. I don’t know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is.’

“Staying in love” isn’t the answer we expected to get – at least not when we began our study of leadership. But after researching leadership for over thirty years, through thousands of interviews and case analyses, we are constantly reminded of how many leaders use the word love freely when talking about their own motivations to lead.

Of all the things that sustain a leader over time, love is the most lasting. It’s hard to imagine leaders getting up day after day, putting in the long hours and hard work it takes to get extraordinary things done, without having their hearts in it. The best-kept secret of successful leaders is love: staying in love with leading, with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce, and with those who honour the organizations by using its products and services.

Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.”

As soon as I saw this quote, I had to highlight it, type it out and send it to some of my colleagues. It’s beautiful and absolutely describes my experiences through the work that I do. Day after day, I get to hear the stories and experiences of other people. I get to serve them where they are at in their life and assist them and support them to get to where they want to be. It’s such an honour to have this experience and can truly say I love what I do and the people that I get the opportunity to work with.

Staying In Love

Staying in love isn’t always easy. People say things and do things that leave us with a negative taste in our mouth. We don’t like how they approach things, how we interpret their actions, the clothes they wear, the smell they have, whatever it is. It’s easy to find fault in others. When we find ourselves in that mindset it becomes easy to stop loving the other person. It becomes easy to pick at their actions and words. It becomes easy not to care about those we are leading.

Whenever I feel myself drifting into this mindset I take a hard look at the judgements that I’m casting and look to shift my mindset from a place of judgement to a spirit of curiosity. Instead of snarking, get interested; instead of reacting, ask insightful questions; instead of judging, get curious.


Jason Dykstra

Jason is a Conflict Management Specialist who is helping organizations and congregations move from conflict situations to creative solutions. He specializes in relational and communication issues and uses his experience and training in mediation, group facilitation, conflict management coaching, speaking and teaching to aid you and your surroundings to better… MORE >

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