In a recent talk to 500 business leaders I began with a statement about the hospitality industry I consider a basic principle of service, “The guest experience will never exceed the team member experience”. If we expect our people to deliver a quality service, product, or experience for our guests we must first, as leaders, deliver a quality experience for our team. Yet, this concept seems to escape many leaders around the world expect for the true Difference-Maker Leader.

The basic premise of my talk was this: to create the best experience for others we must lead with love.

In today’s world the concept of love in the work place can create considerable confusion. The word love itself is a complicated word. The Greek language requires three separate words to fully define the idea of love. Yet, the English language uses only one four-letter word to define something as complicated as love.

For the purposes of my talk I settled on the most basic concept of love: to deeply value another individual as you value yourself. It is my belief this simple idea of valuing others as we value ourselves is a significant component in our foundation of leadership.

The #LeadWithLove conversation is larger than a single blog post. My goal is merely to provide you starting points to better equip you in your journey to lead with love.

Consider Your Connections: We are wired for connection. Research has shown each of us has a basic need in life to connect with others. We are the most connected generation in history with two billion people having access to the Internet. Yet, we find ourselves in a social vacuum lacking true, close friends in a time of need.

As a Difference-Maker Leader you should consider each connection you make daily. Are your connections simply surface level or are you making the needed deeper connections with those around you? Check your progress on deeper connections by asking yourself this question: For those in your connection circle can you name an additional person of significance in their lives? If not, connect deeper.

Consider Your Priorities: Many leaders have two sets of priorities, the set they have in their head and the set they actually live out each day. Frequently these two sets of priorities don’t match. In a class I teach leaders are asked to write down what matters most to them in life. The answers are very predictable for the most part. When I ask these same leaders if others would write the same list about them the room usually becomes very quite.

What I have discovered over the years of asking the “what’s important to you” question is most leaders only know the answer in their head. Many never transfer what is in their head to something more practical, like a journal, a trusted friend, or Personal Board Member. Only thinking about what matters most to us make us less effective creating the correct daily experiences needed to demonstrate our true priorities.

When what we think is important is not consistent with what we demonstrate is important we create a low trustworthiness in what we claim to value in life. Our ability to lead with love requires us to be trustworthy in our priorities.

Consider Your Story-line: I have written a great deal about your story. Each of us has a story worth telling. You have the collective power over the story you deliver each day. What I haven’t written about, until today, is each of us has two basic story-lines to choose from as we write our story each day. We can live our life through a story of love or a story of judgment the choice is ours.

Our daily story-line represents how we view others which determines how we will ultimately treat them. If our story-line is one of judgment we will judge a person or situation with very little information to go on. Typically, we judge others based on surface level details such as tattoos, clothes, cars, skin color, or nationality all of which can be misleading.

When our story-line is based on love we tend to begin with a “best intentions” outlook. Some might consider this interpretation a bit “Pollyanna” in its approach but I would prefer to consider it a “look-in-the-mirror” method. When I look in the mirror how would I want the person I see to be treated? My story-line of love is treating others, as I would want to be treated myself.

Three simple (not always easy) considerations to lead with love as a Difference-Maker Leader. As we begin a new year the time is right to calibrate how we lead. Now is the time to lead with love as we continue…

ONWARD!