This morning, I finished reading "Love Leadership: The New Way To Lead in a Fear-Based World", by John Hope Bryant. This book advocates that the best long-term success is driven by people who lead others with love, caring, and respect. For 17 years, John Hope Bryant has lead his company, Operation HOPE, using these guiding principals; and, as a result, during the worst economic crisis in decades, he manages to continue on without having to let go of a single employee. This is impressive unto itself; but, when you realize that Operation HOPE is a non-profit and that much of its funding came from, and continues to come from companies currently under tremendous financial stress, the power of building "personal relationships" with your partners and vendors becomes exceedingly evident.
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John Hope Bryant has had a fascinating life. Raised in Compton, California in hand-made clothing, he lived in poverty and the midst of gang violence that claimed one of his closest friends. Homeless for many months and living out of his car, he went on to become a serial entrepreneur that did everything from event promotion to clothing retail before finding his passion for offering a hand-up (not a hand-out) to those who needed help.
While his ability to thrive in the face of adversity is inspiring, one thing that I found truly awesome was John's genuine nature. You can tell that he really talks from the heart and that he treats people with respect not because it's a means to an end but, because it's the "right" way to be with people. He's not a perfect man, and he'll be the first to admit he's made many mistakes; but, time and time again, he has found that no mistake is too big so long as your intent is genuine. It is certainly this approach to living that has, in no small way, helped Operation HOPE become the company it is today - raising half a billion dollars and bringing financial literacy programs to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
On a more personal note, I actually became a bit emotional while reading this book. At one point, John recounts something that one of his mentors said to him (forgive the paraphrasing):
I have learned that success happens at the intersection of luck, fate, gifts, and skill. But, it's an intersection.... In the end, there will be a day of judgement, and we're only going to get asked about one thing. Somebody's going to look at us and say: "Tell me what you did down there. Did you leave it better than you found it."
This hit a chord in me. When I was young, my father - one of the most inspiring people I have ever met - often told me, "You have to give back; you can't go through life without making a difference." My father, while being an authority figure, was also a tremendously loving and generous person; and, to John's point, even years after my fathers death, people still randomly email me to tell me how much my father affected their lives.
Not only did John Hope Bryant's words speak to me as a human, they also spoke to me as businessman. One of the guiding principles that Clark Valberg and I have at our company is a belief that we are not "vendors" to our clients, but rather "partners." In fact, we have a saying here that, "The easiest way to make a million dollars is to make two million dollars for our client." The reality of making a million dollars aside, the genuine intent here is to reinforce the mentality that our relationships with our clients are personal and not just contractual. It keeps us thinking right and hopefully helps us forge the long-term, successful relationships to which John speaks.
In an era where the country is in a horrible economic crisis spurred on by the greed and short-sightedness of the "I'm gonna get mine, so you better get yours" mentality, it is inspiring, comforting, and validating to know that true success can be had by those who lead with love, not fear; by those who give, don't take; and by those who believe that true success is defined by more than just money.
... Oh, and did I mention that John Hope Bryant, like myself, loves a good "thumbs up" photo:
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... yeah, he's alright in my book!
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I practice leadership everyday I step into the classroom and I've read some interesting books on leadership and management communications, but this book sounds like the perfect representation of what I believe in. Being sincere and kind to employees and customers creates a more positive environment and it helps to reduce stress in your own life too. I am glad you posted you this, and I will definitely purchase this and get it read as soon as possible.
Awesome my man - I hope you like it. Are there any other books you might want to suggest, while you're here?
Everyone should read Who Moved My Cheese, which is a short story that deals with tiny people and two mice. The main idea of the story is how to deal with change. It's a quick read and really opens up your mind.
Also, The Truth About Managing People (version 2). Part 3 of the book is a section all about leadership, but the entire book is definitely worth while. I bought the book, but I think it's on Google Books.
There is also an article I read that displayed leadership as a metaphor by using baseball scenarios. I'm trying to find the article, if I do I'll post the link.
I've heard of Who Moved My Cheese, and I've also heard very good things about it. I'll be sure to check it out, thanks.
One of the companies I work for runs Leadership Development workshops and a big part of that is using appreciative enquiry so this book you recommend might well be in that positive, appreciative, space.
"Clear Leadership", Second Edition, Gervase Bushe, is an excellent book about clear communication in organisations. We use some of his ideas in the courses we run also.
This book sounds great.
I like to think though, that these principles should not only be applied to our careers or be used only by those who manage/lead us, but by everyone in general.
If we all treat people with love and respect, if we would all be genuine and sincere, this world would be a much better place :)
I love when I hear a story about someone who came from nothing and made it somewhere, just comes to show, that all it takes is hard work and dedication.
I am definitely going to check this book out.
Thanks for the review.
ps. Who moved my cheese is an EXCELLENT BOOK! you should definitely check it out :)
At this level personal and professional merge, I reckon. Clear Leadership is excellent for one-on-one relationships as much for large groups in organisations. It certainly helped my personal life immensely (didnt do much for my spelling ability though!)
Certainly, in the book, John Hope Bryant talks about running both his professional life and personal life this way. I think the ultimate point he makes is that you need to treat people with love and respect. Period. Regardless of context.
I can also recommend Behind Closed Doors, Secrets of Great Management, by Rothman and Derby. I think I first ran across it a few years ago on one of the other CF blogs, but I can't remember. At any rate, it's a great little read with lots of practical suggestions, and the core is much like you describe of Bryant: get involved, get to know people, respect who they are, and focus on helping them succeed. Good good stuff.
Thanks for the info on Bryant's book, I'll check that out as well. Love it that more of these types of books are coming out that understand that success comes more easily when we find ways to live the personal and the professional in the same way, instead of warring with ourselves to try to 'do' professional life differently.
Oh great, I'll be sure to look that one up. It's important for myself to remember that as I run a company, I need to stick to the ideals that I had going into it.
Firstly, nice article regarding leadership. Here is a related video leveraging on "role of the leader". I find this website focused on leadership similar to Jason Hope Bryant's insights . cheers