Education Opinion

The Place of Love in Leadership

By Jill Berkowicz & Ann Myers — February 14, 2015 3 min read
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Today is America’s holiday of love. Granted, it may seem the day was invented by Hallmark or by florists but neither is true. Even historically, there are conflicting stories about the origin of the day. It may have been named after a Christian martyr named Valentine or it may have arisen as an early roman ritual. Nevertheless, in North America and much of Europe, this day has a centuries’ old tradition as a day for sending love.

On Thursday, we observed a 5 or 6-year-old boy with his parents in a card store. They were in serious conversation. The mother said, “Which of these do you want?” She held two cards in her hand. The boy struggled. The mother asked again " Which card do you want for Mrs. Hubinsky?” Now, our attention was caught. The little boy deliberated long and hard before he chose. But, as he said “This one” and turned to his mother, his face was rapt with delight. He had made the selection and it was perfect. Mrs. Hubinsky was clearly his teacher and we wondered how many cards she would receive the next day and whether she would know how carefully this boy’s decision had been made. We also wondered how many cards would be given to school leaders and superintendents this day...and from whom.

Teachers are Lucky
The environment of a classroom allows for seeing and feeling and experiencing love frequently. Young children, often with the help of parents, want to say how special teachers are and this day invites that expression. As we make the transition to offices, it happens so much less. We create and support the environments in which the exchange can happen but we are outside of it. Gradually, it doesn’t matter as our minds are fully engaged in our work. But today, we want to acknowledge that our hearts do not get checked at the office door. Most of us care deeply about the children regardless of their age and can be deeply moved by them and by their connection to us. But, there is a moment when we begin to stop talking about it and stop letting our heart show. We wonder why.

The winning coach of the super bowl can hug his players. Millions watched as Coach Belichick hugged his Quarterback Tom Brady. Coach said, “I love these guys.” It is the ultimate of teammanship, hard work and respect. It wasn’t a perfect game; they almost lost it. But, in the final minute, one of the team made the right move and the team won.

The Leader’s Heart
Picture that as a faculty meeting when the test scores come. In a business about children, we have become so reserved and cautious, that our hearts don’t know how to show up. When there are moments in schools as great as the one Belichick and Brady shared, what do we do? We announce and compliment but joy is what love brings into our toolbox. It takes risks and practice. No, we can’t be huggers without being careful but we do need to ask ourselves how our teachers and children know we love them? How do we show our joy at the success of children or the passing of a bond issue?

In a 2005 keynote, Otto Scharmer asked twelve questions. Just these two might offer an opening:
When do you feel your heart opening-what do you truly love?” and “What are the situations in which you experience your heart opening?

We want to acknowledge the oft-unheralded value of the leaders’ work. So, without flowers, candy or cards, we say Happy Valentine’s Day. And for every one with whom you work, we send a Sam Keen message...for yourself, for every child and for every teacher. If you give this every day, how can you not have a winning team?

You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” - Sam Keen

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The opinions expressed in Leadership 360 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.