I’ve recently noticed articles about cultures of kindness in different publications. While kindness is good, there is much more. This subject approaches the condition of a person’s heart, and kindness is only a small part.
When you squeeze a lemon, lemon juice comes out. People get squeezed by stress and pressure, and when stress and anxiety press a narcissist, anger, blame, sarcasm, ridicule, and belittlement come out. What is in a person’s heart will come out when life presses on them no matter how hard they try to be kind. Kindness will not flow out of a person without the fruit of self-control, especially when life comes at you with pressure.
I frequently write about exerting your personal authority in love. What is love? There are different kinds of love, but English only has one word to describe all of them.
What are the different kinds of love?
Brotherly love is like how you love your parents or siblings. I have men and women in my life that are like brothers and sisters to me. They poured into my life, encouraged me, and been there when I needed support. I love them, and they love me, but there is nothing romantic in our relationships. It is, however, an emotion. It’s something I feel.
Romantic love is the love that I have for my wife, Inna. We love each other, and there is a romantic, intense emotion felt toward each other, but without agape love, this romantic love will not last when things go wrong.
What is Agape love? Agape love is how God loves us. It is a decision to behave toward a person in a certain way, ESPECIALLY when they don’t deserve it. Agape love comes from God and is his character. God is love, and God is Spirit, and the Fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, peace, unending patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
The characteristics of agape love are listed below.
Without Agape love, none of the other love will last. It takes all nine of the above characteristics to make a relationship work overtime because we are all human and make mistakes—romance wains when I do something that does not please Inna. We need each other’s patience, humility, and forgiveness, and God helps us with this as we know Him and abide in Him. We cannot do this outside of His help because it is His character, not ours.
These principles apply in your business too. However, these principles don’t dismiss correction. Love is never an excuse for bad behavior. Have you ever heard the term speak the truth to people in love? Tell your employee the behavior that’s not pleasing to you. Express to them how it looks or sounds when they do it. Ask them to change in humility, and give them the benefits or consequences for granting or not granting your request.
Why ask in humility when you are the boss and can fire them in a second? Leaders do not control—dictators control. You have no control over anyone that works for you, and don’t spend any time trying. Merely ask by saying please, be grateful that they heard you and were willing to change. Then hope and persevere with them that they can make the change. This is what agape love looks like in your business.
Sadly, I see leaders attempt to control people through intimidation, domination, or manipulation. If people are not performing up to your expectations, encourage them to grow. It’s their choice. If they don’t grow, change and become more, love them out the door. You are in charge. You invite people into the business, and you invite them out.
Agape love is merely a choice, with God’s help, I might add. It’s a choice to act toward someone based on the list of characteristics above. One does this ESPECIALLY when the other does not deserve it. I firmly believe that none of us deserve and none of us owe, but we are responsible to others. We have a responsibility to love others, but that does not mean we allow them to abuse us.
I answered the phone, and a salesman started his cold call pitch. I listened with patience as he finished. Then I asked a question, and he said, “What the F..k is this about?” I was stunned. My next move was this. I said, “Listen, I expect that if we are going to have a conversation, we will respect one another. He said in a contemptuous voice, “Oh, you deserve respect?” I said, “No, I don’t deserve anything from anybody. I expect it respect. It’s my rule. So you get to decide how this conversation ends.” He hung up.
Agape love does not mean you take abuse. You are kind to others and yourself too. You engage in God-pleasing self-care. You can be kind and patient with employees while expecting excellence, and love is never an excuse for poor performance. Poor performance is never an excuse for abuse an employee.
What is humility?
Humility is hard to define. It is the opposite of Pride. Let’s look at Pride; how not to be. Pride says, “I am the center of my world.” You consider yourself before others. The prideful person turns people off, is not fun to be around, and destroys the team’s unity. The narcissist boss that does not have much capacity for empathy and belittles everyone is a good example.
As the old story goes, a nation that spoke one language came together and decided to build a tower to heaven. It was called the tower of Babel. God decided that he would confuse their language not to understand each other and work in unity. The nation was building this tower to make a name for itself. Due to their pride, God stopped their project by attacking their unity.
Pride is a serious thing, and it is a part of our nature. Unity will never come without humility. Humility will not come to the company without a humble leader. The business’s culture flows from the leader, and the apple never falls far from the tree.
Entitlement is rooted in pride.
Pride Leads to calamity and destruction among teams. Proverbs 11:2 says that “pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Pride can lead to Godless self-confidence, self-importance, arrogance, and abusive behavior.
Unfortunately, I see leaders who belittle and disparage their people, which is abusive, toxic, and destructive. This kind of person has no humility and sees others as less important, and a means to profit. People are NOT a means to an end. People are the end, but that takes agape love to see. The narcissist has no room for patience or humility. He is the center of the world. If you work for a person like this, it probably won’t change or get better.
Shaming suffocates creativity and is rooted in pride. Shame is a potent emotion that makes a person aware of something that they did improperly or dishonorable. The owner, manager, father-mother who shames the employee or child shames out of pride.
The shamed person becomes the person who shames. The little league kid who struck out and lost the game disgraced his father because of the father’s pride. So the father humiliated the child in front of the team and crowd.
Shaming happens in our businesses, too, and it is used to manipulate and control people. The technician whose father shamed him as a kid for mistakes he made will not risk making mistakes at work. The boss who belittles the employee who made a mistake causes the employee not to try anything new. It is too risky. A pattern of shaming is evidence of a toxic culture and is abusive.
Agape love works. The rulers and teachers of the law asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, and he summed it up like this. Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. We have a responsibility to love each other. Are you a Leader or a Dictator?
Roger Daviston is a cognitive-behavioral specialist who helps people think differently, grow personally and spiritually. If you want to learn more about boundaries in leadership and how to become a better leader, visit Roger’s YouTube channel, The Daily Daviston. You may also reach out to roger [at] rogerdaviston.com.