We all want to be loved. But some of us need to be loved. In his great book Michael Jordan: The Life, Roland Lazenby talks about the different between two of the coaches of the Chicago Bulls in Jordan’s time. The first is Doug Collins who was quote successful, but feel short of winning a championship, and Phil Jackson, who is widely considered one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. The quote by Johnny Bach, who served as an assistant coach under both head coaches, is most telling.

Collins has many strengths, but his insecurity played out in a difficult way. On a certain level, he wanted to be loved by his players, particularly Jordan, which simply wasn’t possible. Jackson, on the other hand, showed little interest in that. “The most important things is that he never sought their love,” Bach said of Jackson, looking back. “there are many coaches who want to be loved, who have to be loved and go down in flames as a result of it. Pro athletes just aren’t going to do that. They aren’t going to give you that love if you seek it.”

Roland Lazenby Michael Jordan: The Life, 374

One of the greatest and most painful learning experiences I have in leadership is the one stated above. As a leader I can’t need my people to love me. If I do I won;t lead them, I won’t have hard conversations or make hard calls. If I need them to love me I am dead kin the water as a leader. But if my heart rejoices that I am loved by God beyond measure I have the emotional strength not to need people’s love. And in the end I probably will not only be a better leader but one that is loved too.

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