4 min readJan 4, 2020

Leadership is about love. Full stop.

It is creating a safe space for people. It is creating cultures of belonging and cultures where people feel they can be their best selves, their whole self, and their brave self. When leading with love you are enabling people to feel that they are a part of a We, not I culture.

They are included, they see themselves in other people. There are growth opportunities available to them. We are rooting for them.

I am so drawn to the phrase, “courageous conversation”. It makes me think that there are two people involved. And those two people or at least one of them is coming to the conversation, coming to the party, ready to participate, ready to be vulnerable, ready to show up as themselves without armor, or without thinking they need armor.

Today I had an incredible conversation with a senior person on our creative team, who has an opportunity to move across the country and take the job of his dreams. And the fact that he was, while slightly nervous, still courageous enough to come in and talk with me about that, knowing that I would only be his cheerleader and I would only want the best for him and that we would support him as a company.

It was an incredible conversation! We were both excited! Both of us cheering him on! He left the conversation feeling seen, feeling empowered and feeling lit up. And I felt that I left the conversation feeling like this is exactly what we want to do!

We want people to live their lives, their fullest life where they soar! Of course, we don’t want to lose star talent. However, a talent, going to the job of his dreams will be our partner forever and will stay in our ecosystem forever. He will never forget the fact that we were not only an incredible launchpad for him but that we greeted his desire with open arms. We held space for his growth. And we were accepting of his eagerness to move on and spread his wings.

In fact, he just sent me an email which began, “First of all, thank you so much for the support and willingness to help, it means a lot to be able to have such good conversations.” and he signs off saying, “Anyway thanks for, well, everything.”

You can only imagine how that makes me feel like as a leader :-)

Human nature 101 dictates because of the walls we have developed over time and ways in which we have shut down, there’s really nothing easy, per se, about having courageous conversations. They can be challenging because they potentially play on anxiety, insecurity, and ultimately, fear that we won’t be understood or we won’t be seen, or even fear that we will be rejected. They demand that the listener is able to show up and not invade the space with their own mishegoss. (A Yiddish word for craziness, senseless behavior..)

And thus it’s so important when you have conversations to hold space for that other person to be themselves, to be vulnerable and to feel like they can absolutely show up. You the listener are not judging, you will just be holding space. And it’s the utmost importance you check yourself that you can do this. Move your ego and your need for control into the backseat. This is NOT about you my friend. You are the coach. Remember, they are the hero who is showing up.

Leadership is about love. Full stop.

When we’re leading with love, we are able to embrace our own emotions, especially our vulnerabilities, and be self-aware enough to acknowledge our warts, failures, share our strengths, challenges etc… and offer up ways that these have allowed us to learn and grow. When we are leading with love, we are building a culture where radical candor discussions can happen that build ever deeper connections between co-workers and teammates. Safety and trust are developed in cultures that embrace love and humanity. And when you lead with love you truly only want the best for others. I really mean it — only want the best for others.

We all have one life to live. It sounds so cliche and corny, but it’s true.

So, let’s go! Let’s GO!! Let’s bring more humanity and realness into our workplaces.

Let’s work together to create cultures where people actually want to go to work on a Monday morning. Where we are encouraged to make friends. A workplace where we feel emotionally and physically safe and included to actually let people in. A workplace where we actually collaborate on great work. A workplace where we care about one another’s success, where we attend to each other’s challenges, where we know in our gut that “the work I do matters” and “I belong”.

I know it’s not as simple as it sounds to some, but bringing more love and more heart, more graciousness, kindness, tenderness, and good energy into the workplace, I guarantee you, is a win-win for everyone.


Heart Leader. First Chief Heart Officer. @VaynerMedia. Emotional Optimist! Always have a song in my head!