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  • Writer's pictureRachel Holly

Why We Lead with Love

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

February Blog | Written by Rachel Holly

During the “month” of love we thought it fitting to center our blog around loving people. No one will dispute that growing a successful business requires many different components, from a strong business model to branding to innovation to hiring smart people to execute. And at the helm, guiding the way, is strong leadership – the central component. Leadership styles vary from person to person, and from company to company, and employees notice. An organization’s leadership reflects the culture, the values, and even the team you bring into an organization.

Rebecca Contreras, AvantGarde’s President and CEO, firmly believes that having genuine love for those she leads is a key tenet of her leadership style and she encourages others on her team who lead to follow these values through words, actions, and behaviors. It has become deeply ingrained in AvantGarde’s values, supporting our “People First, Client Always” approach to doing business. This leadership style is clearly manifested in the staff’s happiness and engagement at AG, as well as the satisfaction of our clients whom we love and care for.

“My philosophy is to love people where they are,” Rebecca explains. “I recognize that even as we work as a team we are on our own separate paths. Everyone has a personal life full of challenges they face outside of work. Everyone has aspirations both in their careers and personal lives. And everyone has flaws. Leading with love empowers people to make shifts, supports them in accomplishing their goals, and brings out the best in them.”

As someone who asserts in “leading with love”, Rebecca has identified eight principles central to her leadership style:

  • Articulate values. Be clear about the organization’s alignment to values and convey if staff is not living up to them. It is important to specify this concern and be clear that the values here are not negotiable.

  • Loving people. By showing compassion and kindness, we are loving the “whole” individual, not just the employee. This should be the foundation of any leadership style that aims to see their people flourishing and not just satisfied.

  • Listening to people. Open lines of communication should go both ways. If employees feel secure in voicing their opinions or concerns, and if they feel acknowledged, then they feel valued.

  • Helping people/community. Leadership is an act of service. By actively looking for ways to help the people we lead (both directly on a team and within the wider community) we are empowering them to move forward on their paths and come together stronger as a team/community.

  • Care about people and take care of them. As a leader, caring about people means taking time to connect with them and understand their unique qualities. Taking care of them is taking that one step further: creating an environment where everyone contribution is valued as a part of the team.

  • Invest in people. Invest in their growth. Give them opportunities through training and mentoring to grow in their field. Give them the trust, tools, and space to create their success, and they will.

  • Appreciate people. Beyond compensation, it’s important to recognize contributions, successes, and developments. Doing this both privately and publicly can go a long way.

  • Support people in their goals, then celebrate their growth. Take time to encourage people, especially if they seem to be struggling. Then acknowledge and celebrate how far they’ve come on their individual paths, so that they feel the support and love that will inspire their continued progress. Sometimes this means showing support even as they move on away from AG to pursue their dreams, take on better paying jobs, or achieve overall growth in their career. Although our goal is to maintain our team intact, Rebecca is often seen celebrating the “loss” of a talented team member and wishing them well – even if sad to lose them.

This “leading with love” philosophy is also backed by science. Much research about trust-building comes from the idea that a psychologically safe work environment leads to teams being able to be vulnerable enough to innovation and are more likely to drive excellence, which creates a client-centric business model.

In the end, it’s clear that leading with love is better business. Everyone benefits: engagement increases, turnover decreases, collaboration flourishes, innovation develops. Clients notice improved relationships, loyalty, and output. People thrive.

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