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Love and Caring – A Requirement for Sustainable Success

Love and Caring – A Requirement for Sustainable Success
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Part IV:Love and Caring – the final installment of our series on the four essential attributes found in leaders of sustainably successful organizations.


A homeless person kept begging one of our clients for a chance to prove himself. Eventually, he was given the chance. Over time, he became a role model for commitment and dedication to the organization. His service was so exemplary that the company created an annual award in his name to honor the team member with the most exemplary work ethic.

What enables this kind of achievement? It starts with a leader who loves and cares for team members. The prototypical hard-driving leader can be successful if the team feels loved. In service of your Purpose, the Guiding Principle of love and caring is a requirement.

In the organizational context, love is deeply caring for team members as human beings who deserve the challenge to become all they can be, as they bring value into their own lives and the lives of their team members.

I first benefited from Bo Schembechler’s leadership when he was my football coach at the University of Michigan. I never experienced him as the hard-driving, overly demanding leader many outside the program seemed to see. Bo was successful because his players knew that off the field, they were loved. On the field, they were responsible for performing at a high standard—it was an opportunity for personal growth to be part of something much bigger than themselves.

Having the opportunity to be on Bo’s staff for eleven years gave me insight into how much he cared about each of his players, both while they were on the team and even after they were long gone from Michigan Football. Due to job changes, I attended four universities before I received my MBA. Without hesitation, I would ask Bo for a letter of recommendation for each program, which he promptly did, and I am sure they helped my admission immensely. In working for Bo, I saw the favors asked of him daily by former players, player parents, alums, and the many coaches he had mentored. He had a full-time job filling requests to help others. And he did it without a complaint; he felt an obligation, and he enjoyed catching up with former players. He cared deeply about us; it was the best feeling you could have.

Sustainable success is enabled by team members who feel deeply cared about, such that they go the extra mile for the leader and the team.

Love and Caring in Action

Love and caring create feelings in us that impact our actions. Great leaders enable human nature’s greatest need: feeling safe, secure, and valued because you can trust your leader.

Great leaders demonstrate love and caring by:

  • humbly taking time to get to know others, to know them deeply
  • recognizing that there is a Foundation of Greatness in each team member to be tapped into, recognized, and built upon
  • being unafraid to use the word love when expressing how they feel about their team
  • building relationships that put the other person’s needs first
  • recognizing that love and caring are a two-way, transparent commitment
  • recognizing that love and caring are both at the core of enabling the safety and security we all seek
  • demonstrating to team members that the leader has their back
  • supporting team members who may be best served by finding a better fit elsewhere

A Story of Trust Combined with Love/Caring

Jim Richardson, twenty-seven years Head Coach of the University of Michigan Women’s Swimming and Diving program, is one of those leaders I studied to understand what differentiated the exceptional leaders. Jim built his teams with mutual trust and love. Not only did Jim care about them, but they cared about each other.

One year, the NCAA Championships tested this ethos when Jim had the flu and spent most of the National Championship in his hotel room, isolated from the team. Without their leader, the exemplary manner in which the team looked after, supported emotionally, and cared for each other was an experience all would remember. The unconditional love for each other was apparent.

Thus far in the history of the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, the same three teams had finished in the top three spots, and Michigan was not one of them. This year, however, Michigan was in second place after both the first and second days. On the third and final day, it came down to the last event, the Platform Dive. Stanford was #1, and Michigan was #2. When Michigan had beaten Stanford in the Platform Dive earlier in the year, the points they had earned made Michigan National Champions. However, Michigan’s diver was competing internationally at the Pan Am Games and was not at the meet.

Stanford won the championship with their platform dive. What happened next showed how the team cared about each other and what they had accomplished. They had done the best they could, and they were joyous! They sang so loud and danced so long that they delayed the presentation of the National Championship trophy. They believed in each other, cared about each other, and did the best they could. Because of Jim’s trust in them and love for each other, they were champions; they were all they could be that day.

#Leadership #Love #Caring #Curiosity #ServantMindset #Authenticity #ShiftFromMeToTeam #SustainableSuccess