March 28

When Complexity and Uncertainty Arise in Leadership Let Love Be Your Guide


Leaders must be ready for the possibility of the unexpected and the uncertainty of complexity in certain leadership contexts, I offer to you today, let love be your guide.

Dr. Jason Carthen: Lead in Love


The Benefits of Moral Love

During a recent speaking engagement, I was honored to speak on the subject of Servant Leadership. I decided to utilize one of Patterson’s seven virtues of Servant Leadership to engage my audience. This virtue would focus on a leader’s need to lead in a way that has positive implications for followers while not sacrificing the productivity of the respective organization.

Naturally Serve Others First

One of the very first servant leadership virtues put forth by Dr. Kathleen Patterson suggests that a servant leader must lead from the basis of love and not just any love…but a moral love. A love that is steeped in caring for your fellow man or woman because it is the right thing to do and is of their natural desire and inclination to do so. In other words, they want to serve others first, thereby helping them to achieve success they otherwise may not be able to attain.

Why is this important in the context of this narrative? During the recent keynote engagement I made reference to earlier, the unexpected was on full display. As I was transitioning a speaking point about a leader leading with love and making the necessary sacrifice for their followers a loud gasp was heard from the back of the room. The gasp gradually grew louder as it was repeated by others along with a scattering of bodies spreading and fanning out from the back of the room which was filled with people.

The Power of Prayer

In the back of the room a student had succumbed to a seizure and it was violent enough to illicit a response tinged with surprise and fear. It was in this moment that I had to make a choice that could impact hundreds of lives in either a positive or negative way based upon the complexity of the situation. It will be different for every leader, but for me, I decided to lead in love. I asked the group to join with me in prayer for their fellow student and to be contemplative while emergency crews were on their way.

Show the Way in Love

You see, many choices could have been made at that moment, but for me it was very clear. Show the way and demonstrate it in such a fashion that future emulation would embody the same type of love I would want demonstrated toward me. At the end of the day, the greatest example we can provide for others will be found in the foundations of love that we can provide while not sacrificing the overall mission, vision and calling of the organization and follower relationships.

Point of Clarity Quote:

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.

—Max DePree


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