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Leaders are not machines. They’re human beings and as such will lead more effectively, remain in leadership during their productive years, and probably live longer if they learn to love, listen, and laugh.

What and Who Should Leaders Love?

To accomplish goals and achieve greatness, leaders must love the vision of the organization. Leaders who aren’t passionately engaged with the vision can’t present it day in and day out with any degree of credibility. If they don’t love the vision they’ll sound fake, because they are.

Leaders must love personnel. I don’t mean something illicit, of course, but rather a genuine appreciation for those who work to fulfill the organization’s mission. Leaders who care more for prestige, perks, power, profit, or pensions than people may earn revenue but they won’t earn respect. Leaders who love personnel will more likely inspire them to contribute to mutual success. And leaders who put people first will always lead more effectively, and last longer doing it.

To What or Whom Should Leaders Listen?

Leaders who think they know it all eventually evidence otherwise. Usually, others know emperors have no clothes even if emperors do not.

But listening leaders are learning leaders. The fact that they listen demonstrates humility and opens them to new ideas. Learning leaders listen to what they read, they listen to the marketplace, they listen to advisors, they listen to personnel, they listen to clients or customers, and the public, they listen to their critics, they listen to their heart.

Why and When Should Leaders Laugh?

Laughter is a sign of a healthy soul. Leaders who do not laugh shouldn’t be trusted. The Scripture says “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22), which is why I said leaders who laugh will live longer. Laughing relieves stress and improves leaders’ disposition, something followers watch and emulate.

Leaders should learn how laugh. Laughing at themselves and laughing with others is a great humanizing, bonding expression. It almost inexorably draws people to leaders, increases the esteem with which they’re regarded, and thus enhances their influence.

Leaders should learn when to laugh. The Scripture again gives us direction: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Leaders lead best when they laugh and cry with those they’ve asked to follow them on the journey. Nothing says you’re one of the team than actually being one of the team.

Leaders who love, listen, and laugh model traits that will enable them not simply to survive but to thrive. So too their organizations.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

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