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Transformative Leadership: Leading with Love in Recovery Coaching

Embracing Multiple Pathways of Recovery with Love

We need more Leaders Who Love.

Over a year ago Phil Valentine, CCAR (Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery) Executive Director facilitated training with us at Recovery Coach Academy UK.

Prior to the start of training we were discussing something, I can’t remember all the details but I remember one statement he said “Lead with Love ''.

As a naturally curious individual I questioned the statement “Lead with love”, what does that REALLY mean? What is love? What does it mean to lead? How does he interpret that statement? Do we currently have leaders who “lead with love”? Do we currently have leaders in the Recovery Movement who “lead with love”?

That statement led me on a journey, a quest, a search for clarity and understanding. If you know Phil or have had a conversation with him you will know he does not give answers, at least not often. So I knew I was on my own on this one.

That day I wrote “Lead with Love” on a bright orange sticky note, that quote soon became doodled and written over and over again on pages in notebooks. It turned into a colorfully painted illustration on my iPad and over a period of time other quotes about love were soon added to the collection such as;

  • “The secret ingredient is always love”

  • “Love without Limits”

  • “Justice is what love looks like in public”

  • “If you want to help people heal, love them without an agenda”

  • “You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them”

  • “If you’re going to be a leader today, you have to love people, period.”

I’m sure you are wondering where I am headed with this, don’t worry I am still on the journey of self-discovery. I don’t have all the answers but what I can say is I know leaders in the recovery movement who “Lead with Love”.

Do you?

I assumed finding leaders in the recovery movement who lead with love would be an easy task as our work “should” be enveloped with love and compassion for those we support. Let’s just say I fully understand why growing up I was told not to assume.

Mindful they can be difficult to find, but they are out there.

See you will not find Leaders who lead with love chanting their name, seeking validation, or wearing their success with pride; in fact, they are the quiet ones, the listeners, the observers, the ones who ask questions and seek to understand.

Often they do not consider themselves a leader at all. When I told Phil about this writing he asked “What are the outcomes/results when a leader leads with love? Any specific examples?”

I don’t have all the answers but I feel like you will know you are leading with love when the following happens:

  • People feel seen, heard, and valued

  • When you can disagree with coworkers or “leaders” within the organization without fear of judgment, victimization, or termination

  • When people feel safe confiding in you

  • When people feel supported to rise to their maximum potential

  • When people genuinely feel cared for and respected

  • When people stay

  • When people feel like they belong

  • When people leave a conversation better than how they entered it- how we make people feel says a lot about our leadership style

  • People are welcome to be their authentic selves

  • People see transparency

  • Tell the truth with love

So the question for you is, are you leading with love?

Below I have added some quotes I have found along my journey over the years that inspire me and the work I do, my hope is that we can all find ways to lead with love.

Please share any quotes you find inspiration from as well.

“The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.” ―Jim Collins.

“Heart-centered leadership means having the wisdom, courage, and compassion to lead others with authenticity, transparency, humility, and service.” ― Susan Steinecker

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” ― Martin Luther King Jr

“I don’t necessarily have to like my players and associates but as their leader, I must love them. Love is loyalty, love is teamwork, and love respects the dignity of the individual. This is the strength of any organization.” ― Vince Lombardi

“You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people.” ― Cornel West

“You can’t lead the people unless you love the people. You can’t love the people unless you know the people, and you can’t know the people unless you walk among the people. You cannot serve me if you cannot see me.” ― Raphael Warnock

- Calliese Conner, Recovery Coach Professional, and "Good Trouble"

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1 Comment

Wow , what a love-ly well written post. Great job! captures the essence of great leadership and I couldn’t agree more , that love is the thread that holds it all together!!!

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