The five languages of leadership love – Part 1

It is at this point that I can almost hear a collective “What the !!!!???” radiating across the globe. Followed closely by “Has he lost his mind?” “What the heck is he talking about?” and “What have love languages got to do with leadership?”

Rest assured that I haven’t lost my mind. Surprising as it may seem, the title has everything to do with leadership.

During the work that I do on a daily basis, I get to spend quality time with leaders at all levels of the ladder, from all walks of life.

Most of the time I am presenting in the workplace to discuss leadership and its impact on developing high performing teams, however, regularly the conversations move towards a more personal focus. I draw a deep line in the sand when the conversation turns to relationships between significant others. Trust me, I’m not the person to give relationship advice!

So why the title, The five languages of leadership love, I hear you ask.

In 1995, Gary Chapman, an expert in relationships, released a book entitled

“The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate”. It basically outlines five ways to express and experience the love that Chapman calls “love languages”. These languages are gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch.

Chapman believes that, emotionally, people need to receive the love that aligns with their internal ‘criteria’ about how love should be displayed. That works fine when the two people involved have the same criteria, but problems can arise quickly when the criteria are different and they are not aware of that.

I have observed a number of nuances when working with both highly effective leaders and those who could be more effective.

The leaders who are able to bring people together and develop an unwavering culture of common focus, continuous improvement and task delivery, while developing a place in which people want to spend time, understand the concept of “love languages”. They understand that different people hear and see things in different ways than others, and this can then guide their behaviour or performance.

The development of a high performing organisation/team stems from the strong beliefs of the leader and the ‘magic’ that appears through elite skill in the delivery of those beliefs. This magic is what the “love languages’ are all about. It’s about the appreciation that the way in which we deliver and receive information is different from one person to the next, and the leader’s way is definitely not a representation of the rest of the team.

As leaders, there are strategies we can put in place to enhance the strength and penetration of the information and messages that we need to pass throughout our organisation every day.

  1. Get out of your own way.

No matter how committed a leader is, or how passionate about developing a successful and positive culture, the effectiveness of delivery is seriously compromised when a leader’s communication strategies are not identified or are ignored.

This may sound strange, but all of us have a default communication setting that drives the way that we listen and communicate. If this matches the other person’s then there is not an issue. However, if it does not match, then the leader needs to modify his or her strategies to increase the chance.

This is no place for a “my way or the highway” attitude.

Successful leaders are VERY aware of the internal processes that are driving their interactions and in so doing they are able to ‘get out of their own way’ to allow better communication impact.

Check out part 2

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