Love as a Leader

Central to leadership development is self-discovery, self-assessment, and self- actualization. Without a full understanding of one’s self, it is difficult to lead others to the full potential possible. Most importantly is the ability of a leader to have the capacity for love and effectively express it to those being led. The need for leaders to care for and be concerned with the well-being of followers is evident throughout many leadership models (Northouse, 2013). Transformational leadership has a focus of caring for followers in unique ways specific to the follower, while servant leadership is follower-focused where the needs of the leader take a backseat to the needs of the followers (Northouse, 2013).

What is challenging is quantifying a leader’s capacity for love and care for followers. For Christian leaders, there is an expectation throughout scripture, particularly in 1 Corinthians 13, that love is the primary motivation (Winston, 2010). In fact, 1 Corinthians can actually serve as a self-assessment for leaders to create quantifiable measures on how well a leader is using love as a leadership factor (Winston, 2010).

1 Corinthians provides statements that can be used to assess a leader’s capacity for love in leadership. Some are clarifying statements as to what love is not, while some define what love is (Winston, 2010):

Love does not:

  • act unbecomingly
  • seek its own
  • allow being provoked
  • rejoice in unrighteousness
  • allow jealousy
  • take an account of wrong
  • brag
  • act arrogantly

Love is:

  • patient
  • kind
  • rejoices with truth
  • bear all things
  • believes all things
  • hopes all things
  • endures all things

Consistently throughout Paul’s writings is the notion that virtues are the anchor points for self-development and growth.  For leaders, measuring one’s self against this list can provide a clear understanding of how much love comes through their leadership.


Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Winston, B. E. (2011). The virtue of charity: A foundation for leadership. Regent University School of Leadership Studies.

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