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August 2010


Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World


by John Hope Bryant (Jossey-Bass, 2009)


What are the big take-aways?


Bryant’s major thesis, based on his life experience and the narratives of some of the other business and political figures he cites, is that fear and coercion are less effective, sustainable and profitable leadership tactics than love-based ones.  On page 11 Bryant explains:


Love leadership is a way of thinking and acting that acknowledges your selfish longings for success and outside acknowledgement, yet also taps the often hidden strength inherent in your personal insecurities, your limitations, even your failings. It mines the wisdom to be found in life’s setbacks.


Bryant’s “five fundamental laws” of love leadership are:


  • Loss creates leaders
  • Fear fails
  • Love makes money
  • Vulnerability is power
  • Giving is getting


Why did I like it?


I found the most engaging parts of the book to be the introduction, followed by the very compelling “Loss Creates Leaders” chapter. The first 50 or so pages of the book were clear and succinct, the most autobiographical, and the most revealing of the author’s playful sense of humor. The rest of the book mainly expanded on the “five laws” using contemporary examples of love- and fear-based actions of several major corporations in the current U.S. economic crisis. Overall, Bryant makes a provocative and practical argument for “enlightened self-interest” and “good capitalism” that is reminiscent of the controversial principles in self-help books on the “law of attraction,” but on a global financial scale and in a way that doesn’t come off as naïve as it may sound.


In what situations would this be useful?


The concept of “love leadership” is largely about identifying the opportunity in crisis. Therefore, this book would probably serve as a useful resource for a leader who is experiencing or has recently experienced a major setback, and is searching for meaning in a time of uncertainty. A leader grappling, unsatisfied, with bitterness or cynicism or difficulty with forgiveness – and looking for the business case for responding to the situation with different feelings and motivations – would certainly find validation in this book.


What other resources might “pair” well with it?


I haven’t yet reviewed it in the Leadership Library, but I have had positive experiences myself – and with leadership coaching clients – using Bill George’s workbook, Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Bill George is known for his studies and books on “authentic leadership,” and it makes sense that he wrote the Foreword to Love Leadership with its emphases on passion, purpose, relationships and discipline. If the reason to pick up Love Leadership is for a leader to get inspired to get back on track, Finding Your True North would then provide a compassionate step-by-step work plan for doing just that.


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