Leading With Love: Just Say It

I have seen it happen many times. A leader is faced with the need to present a strong opinion or some critical feedback.

When they begin to speak, they become so preoccupied with trying to be polite and tactful that they end up diluting the message to the point that it’s no longer recognizable.

Sometimes it’s so unclear that those being addressed find themselves staring with blank expressions in awkward silence, asking themselves Huh? What was that?

The speaker, who can see the connection isn’t happening, tries again. This time it’s even broader and more abstract, leaving everyone more bewildered than before.

Leaders with heart are sensitive to others.  They make sure that their intentions are understood and that no one gets hurt.

Leading from within means leading with love, but sometimes we have to say something that is not entirely positive. When that time comes, we need to know what to say it, when to say it, and how to say it.

As someone who leads with heart, we have an obligation to step in and say what we need to say in a meaningful and honest way.

As leaders we must create an environment where people feel safe to be themselves and say what is on their mind—where they know that if they speak clearly and directly there will be no consequences. And we must model that kind of candor ourselves.

Not by tiptoeing.
Not by wavering.
Not by being polite.

Stop the conversation or the meeting and ask in a meaningful way, “What are we not saying that needs to be said?”

Then let’s just say it.

Lead from Within: Leading with heart can sometimes mean stepping in—when leadership is needed, when safety is warranted, and when fear keeps us polite. Lead with love and it will always set you right.

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Wayne McEvilly

    22. Jan, 2013

    You say “Lead with love and it will always set you right.” I beleve this. I believe we must believe it and act on it-in the seemingly smallest to the grandest of our choices. Love is the only sure compass in every decision.
    I have been “felled” LOL with flu for a week and have experienced a diminishment of lustre in my enthusiasms, but my enthusiasm for your work has not flagged.
    Thanks for what you do. You make the enormous effort, and it is appreciated.

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  2. Daryl Grier

    22. Jan, 2013

    If a leader provides a sense of responsibility, encourage pride, and earn your respect then he or she should be esteemed, respected and have earned your trust. The leader will put his needs in front of his own, make the team feel comfortable with him or her and encourage the team to say what they feel without repercussion.

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  3. Edward Colozzi

    22. Jan, 2013

    Hi Lolly,
    You have expressed perfectly the important role of LOVE in effective leadership. Leadership, after all is said and done, is all about relationships. The best relationships are sourced from love and pure intentions of the heart.

    As you share, “Lead with love and it will always set you right” , and there aren’t any good reasons NOT to live and behave this way throughout our career-life journey, which is really a spiritual journey.

    Thank you for your leadership and your love to all of us who are inspired by you:) EdC

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  4. Simon Harvey

    22. Jan, 2013

    Love the post Lolly, Leading With Love: Just Say It; although I have to admit to doing it the wrong way round for a while. Just saying it and then having to lead with love because I made a big mess by just saying it.

    But now I have spent a few years working on self-awareness and looking within, and I can say honestly that I have found that by looking within first, I find much better ways of saying things and much better times to say them.

    Am I right all the time, no way, but when I am connected with my heart I hear the reply very quickly. I breath, I adjust, a know I am in control, and if I lead with love I will succeed.

    Will we know all the right times to say something, I don’t think so, life is too short to know that much. But we can try, we can speak clearly and directly from the heart, with an open mind and with integrity, we will connect at a much more meaningful and deeper level.

    Your leadership inspires trust and openminded communication, it offers hope of what is possible when people speak from the heart and lead with love. You are an inspiration to us all that gather before our screens on Tuesday nights. YOU ROCK LOLLY

    Looking forward to tonight.

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  5. Scott Mabry

    22. Jan, 2013

    Love this Lolly. Another way I like to say this is.. “what are we pretending not to know?” To love is to respect one another enough to say what needs to be said. Thank you for this important reminder.

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  6. john

    23. Jan, 2013

    leading from the heart,can at times mean going where no other would dare,,,means being sharp,harsh,and as critical as is called for,even if it causes discomfort…however its then that the best leaders earn the respect,and trust of their team to follow them in the knowledge they care enough to be truthfull when it matters,,,better bonds are built through an enviroment that can accomodate a freedom to expression both verbal and emotionial…
    in other words i love this post,,,and in the spirit of the message,it cant apply to every situation,and in its purest application,it only works to stremgthen bonds that already exist..but i would allow myself to be lead by anyone who disagrees with it…

    Reply to this comment
  7. john paul

    23. Jan, 2013

    Love is the answer.

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  8. dawoodchishti

    23. Jan, 2013

    Love is conviction.

    Reply to this comment
  9. dawoodchishti

    23. Jan, 2013

    Love is the space and creation.

    Reply to this comment
  10. dawoodchishti

    23. Jan, 2013

    Love is lightening

    Reply to this comment
  11. Joe Passkiewicz

    23. Jan, 2013

    Great post! A GREAT book on this subject is “Love Works” by Joel Manby. One of my favorites! Funny how it seems to take great courage to truly show love to someone in a business environment. Kind of whacked isn’t it? Thanks for your work here!

    Reply to this comment
  12. N.McInTosh

    23. Jan, 2013

    Honesty is love, great article Lolly.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Daymond Lopez

    23. Jan, 2013

    Love is a strong feeling that can lead to good results.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Teapixie

    23. Jan, 2013

    Hi Lolly. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    In my article about becoming whole I also discuss the importance of living through love, considering the value of every single word spoken so that your words express your love for the person in front of you. It is not loving to be “carefully” dishonest, to omit, or to mislead.

    Each and every person has a responsiblity to themselves to become a leader in their own life. It is not enough to only expect this of business leaders.

    I truly appreciate the work you are doing and am inspired by your tweets.

    The full article is available at http://www.squidoo.com/potential

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      24. Jan, 2013

      Great Words and worth repeating:
      Each and every person has a responsiblity to themselves to become a leader in their own life. It is not enough to only expect this of business leaders.
      Thanks for your comment.

      Reply to this comment
  15. cesar

    24. Jan, 2013

    good point: “When they begin to speak, they become so preoccupied with trying to be polite and tactful that they end up diluting the message to the point that it’s no longer recognizable” but excluding the “the point is no longer recognizable” this story is seldom the case in mid – big companies. Leaders actually forget kindess and even objectiveness in their way to the top. And when they are misunderstood they blame others.
    I agree about the love, I have the same point but I use the word smile instead, -hopefully not a fake one- many people think smilling is forbiden at work and I hate that.
    put some love to everything you do, and have fun in the way is my motto


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  16. Ynes

    26. Jan, 2013

    Hello Lolly,
    Thanks for this article about love. Love is the greatest force capable of transforming mankind. As you point love is concern for the other, helping them make the best through understanding and sincere affection. Very thoughtful words from you “Being sensitive to others” really touched me, wisdom words. I admire your simplicity and humility! Keep the good job!

    Reply to this comment
  17. dawoodchishti

    31. Jan, 2013

    Love is spark of the self.

    Reply to this comment

    02. Feb, 2013


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  19. John Reinagel

    03. Feb, 2013

    Could not agree more Lolly. Loving others is core to being a great leader. I have found that those who truly act with live garner the most influence because they are acting for the benefit of others and not themselves.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Sterling Ledet

    01. Apr, 2013

    LOVE = Letting Others Voluntarily Evolve

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  21. Andrea Henning

    10. Jun, 2013

    Love = Freedom. If you love everything, without exception you are free, and free to lead powerfully!

    Thank you Lolly to bring up love in leadership!

    Reply to this comment
  22. Dawood Chishti

    29. Sep, 2014

    Love is the power to win the heart and mind.

    Reply to this comment
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    13. Jan, 2016

    Greetings! I’ve been following your blog for a
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  24. Jim Lathren

    07. Nov, 2016

    Great leaders love their people. They care about their well-being and their success. If we love our people, we level with them. Softening the message to the extent that it is not understood only confuses the receiver. Sometimes love hurts. I use the quote ” don’t BS me to make me feel better”. (BS – Blow Smoke)

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