Three Truths about Leading with Love

By Lisa Petrilli

I have worked with – and for – leaders who have led from love and several who don’t believe the word belongs in business.  The difference is utterly remarkable.

There are three truths of leading with the heart that crystallize when you’ve been blessed to work with someone who opens their heart to their company, their teams and their stakeholders, and who imbues their role with the grace of love:

1. Love enables you to inspire others by elevating your message

A CEO I was with this past week used the phrases, “speaking from my heart” and “what’s in my heart” effortlessly and on more than one occasion.  I was very moved by this and touched by his genuine commitment to his company and his team.

I believe when you use the words, “what’s in my heart” with your team you are telling them you’re opening yourself up to them and, inherently, trusting them and believing in them.

This elevates your message dramatically and inspires your followers.  After all, in our roles as followers we want to know our leaders trust us and believe in us, and when they do it makes it so much easier for us to trust and believe in them.

2. Love brings forth energy & passion that drives more significant business success

I have been blessed to work on a number of initiatives in my career that I came to the table very passionate about.  But only in a few instances have I been blessed to work with a team I really loved – a team that felt like a family.

It was the mutual love that brought out the energy and passion we had for our initiatives and enabled us to be wildly successful regardless of what we were working on. We cared about each other, we wanted each other to succeed and we wanted to succeed individually to better the team.

As leader of several of these teams I thrived on that feeling of mutual love and worked relentlessly on behalf of – and for the success of – my team.  It’s in these situations that you absorb and reflect the reality that there is enough success to go around for all of us in this universe!

It’s love that helps you see it.

3. Love enables long-term commitment and loyalty to our teams and our roles

As leaders we’re often put in positions where difficult decisions must be made and the stress level is astronomically high.  It’s only human to want to quit at some of these points.

Love is an engine that puts us back on course and enables us to commit to “the good times and the bad times,” the “ups and downs,” and to see difficult situations through to their conclusion.

A CEO I recently interviewed (blog post coming soon!) told me, “Lisa, there are three ways to lead:”

  1. By example
  2. By example
  3. By example

When you lead with love you set the ultimate leadership example…

What has your experience been when you’ve led with love?

Please share in the comments and join Steve Woodruff and me, along with the brilliant #LeadershipChat Community on Tuesday evening, February 15th at 8:00 pm Eastern Time as we honor Valentine’s Day by discussing “Leading Through Love.” We’ll share insights and experiences -you won’t want to miss it! Everyone is welcome!

I also highly recommend this post by Robbin PhillipsChief Love Officer – it’s one of my favorites on leading with love!

You can find me on Twitter at @LisaPetrilli and on LinkedIn at I look forward to seeing you there!

To hire me, eMail me at [email protected].

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Photo is Love Cloud by kelp1966.


  1. Hey Lisa,

    As I have mentioned before, I have worked for MANY companies/CEOs… And without question those that lead with love are those that I am drawn to… that I want to work with and for…

    Unfortunately I have not had many who believe in this mantra… BUT, I am very fortunate to be working for a CEO who absolutely who believes the word “love” belongs in business…

    Her name is Linda Rosanio and she’s the CEO of the Star Group. She is extremely philanthropic, helping many charities, giving of her time and her agency’s resources…

    You used the word “family”… well that’s precisely the kind of environment Linda has created and fostered… And since most of us “have” to work :) … why not work with people you like/respect?

    Another great, thought-provoking post, Lisa!

    Steve O
    Steve Olenski´s last blog post ..What Makes A TV Commercial Memorable

    • Steve,

      I’m thrilled to hear you are working with some one who imbues their role with the grace of love and to know that you are working with a team that feels like a family. Thank you for the very kind words and for sharing your experiences here! All the very best…

  2. Haven’t stopped by in awhile, but immediately reminded of why I do keep an eye on your content. I try to share with my team that this element is important as well (thought I call it ‘charity’ – maybe just too timid to use the big ‘L’ word), and underscore the importance of constantly being service oriented rather than self serving.

    Thanks for the confirmation and reinforcement this post provides
    Joel Capperella´s last blog post ..What If- The Most Important Question for Your Content Marketing Strategy

    • Joel,

      So glad you did and I want you to know that though I see charity as coming from love, they are two very different things. Don’t be afraid to show your love – you may be surprised at what you receive in return! I think you’ll also enjoy some interview posts I have coming up with a very successful CEO – I think you’ll be able to relate to his leadership style. All the best to you and thank you so much for being here!

  3. Lisa,
    As usual, you have captured what can only be described as perhaps a once in a lifetime occurrence in one’s career. I have worked with and for a lot of people. I really believe that the type of relationship you are describing comes around very rarely.

    I remember a few years ago reaching back to my special “team” in a little note and I reminded them of a scene from the 2nd to last episode of “Sex and the City” when Carrie met her friends for a farewell dinner and she asks them,, “What if I had never met you?” If you can’t bear to imagine not having met someone…then you know the power of the “team” and the resilence of love.

    It is magical when it happens and you will find your team the envy of the corporate community.

    Judy Helfand´s last blog post ..Twitter Is My Virtual Birdfeeder

    • Judy,

      So eloquently said…thank you for this beautiful comment! What a lovely question, “What if I had never met you?” It certainly puts people – and priorities – into perspective! You are a blessing – have a beautiful Valentine’s Day!

  4. Lisa – Hats off to you! I think a lot of people would be hesitant to write about “LOVE” and “BUSINESS.” Some who read “3 Truths About Leading With Love” might even scoff that you combine the two words in the same sentence. I give you a lot of credit for the way you have taken the emotion of LOVE and used it as the theme of your post on Leadership.

    I often say the only way to build “pure trust” is to show your vulnerability. What better way to show your vulnerability than by leading with your “HEART.” As you mention in the very beginning of your post, I believe when you use the words, “what’s in my heart” with your team you are telling them you’re opening yourself up to them…” How true is that!

    Your point about “… a team that felt like a family,” rings very true with me. I can think of two occasions in my career where the team had developed into a “family” – each member pulling for each other (and in a sales department, getting each member to pull for each other is a pretty good achievement!) It made my job as a leader a lot more fulfilling to see them work with each other prospecting, developing ideas, and going together on calls. On a several occasions, the sales staff held separate meetings to discuss what they were going to do to hit the team’s goals. They made sure everyone was accountable, and when someone didn’t pull their weight, the members of the team let them know about it.

    The challenge is adding new members to the “FAMILY” – it makes hiring the right person who will fit into the culture extremely important.

    Thanks Lisa for your post.


    • Wow, what great thoughts here Steve – thank you so much for sharing them. I think your surprise at my title says so much about how unexpected it is for us to discuss this. :) I hope you’ll be at the chat tonight so we can discuss that a bit further. And thank you so much for sharing your “family” story – it’s a great example of how love drives success. Brilliant point about it being hard to bring someone new into the family – just like in the real world there is an adjustment that must be made. Thank you again, Steve!

  5. Be it called love or just the selfless desire to help others achieve their true potential, not enough of us meet truly great leaders in our careers. It is the rare executive who understands that love and selflessness can also be paired with results and accountability. Lisa, thanks for writing on this; emotional intelligence is lacking many business schools’ curricula and a health dose of “Petrilli” is long over due.

    Keep up the good stuff.
    Craig Juengling´s last blog post ..Sell With All Your Might and All Your Heart Fourth in a 6 part Series about VEESSO

    • Craig,

      What a truly beatiful comment about how love is the selfless desire to help others achieve their true potential. Poignant and so well said. And thank you for the incredibly kind works – I absolutely chuckled at the thought of a “healty dose of Petrilli.” :) Hope you’ll join us for the chat this evening to share more of your thoughts – and thank you so much for being here!

  6. Love isn’t just cards, chocolate and flowers. Love is the intangible element that binds people, attaches hopes to outcomes and fuels tenacity.

    When you lead with your heart, it allows people to connect with your essence. Those who respond positively will become your anchors, your cheerleaders and your partners to success.

    Those who aren’t able to absorb that level of … intensity (that’s the only word that comes to me now) will drop off. They are not ready to align at that level, for whatever reason (they don’t trust themselves; they think that showing love is a sign of weakness, love/leadership is too New Agey Out There etc).

    Which is fine. The combined wattage of those who stay is more than enough to drive the engine.

    Love magnifies; love enhances and love strengthens.
    @mckra1g´s last blog post ..mckra1g- An amazing OL incubator for nonprofits- 501 Mission Place- http-bitly-bOB02m charitytuesday 501MP cc @charityestrella

    • Molly,

      Your comment is a blog post in and of itself! I absolutely love and relate to every bit of it. Thank you for sharing yourself – and your wattage – here; you are truly a blessing! I sincerely hope to see you tonight on #LeadershipChat…

  7. We need more leaders in our communities to lead with love and truly set example by walking the talk.

    Instead of leading by force and inspiring revolution and war, how much better the world would be today if our leaders put love first, and pride, capitalism, and greed in the distance.

    It is up to each and every one of us to take up the cause and lead by love no matter where we sit in our organizations.

    Great post!
    @caroldekkers (Twitter)
    Carol Dekkers´s last blog post ..Happiness is… no expectations

    • Thank you, Carol! Beautiful point about taking up the cause in our own organizations. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here, to read and to share your thoughts – I genuinely appreciate it and hope to see you tonight!

  8. Thank you for this post! I LOVE it!

    Coming from a different world of business, this concept was quite foreign to me, and would never have thought this word belonged in business. I am now learning that through love, we can achieve the respect of others, and hopefully inspire them to follow us BECAUSE of what we have done for them. Now, I am learning to love. Above all else, I just check myself to ask, “am I leading with love.” Am I showing love in a way that will influence and inspire others. I believe the more I continue to implement that type of leadership, and put love 1st, the more growth I will continue to see in my business.

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