There are three ways that human beings can accomplish anything together and each of them has its own type of leader. Very simply, the three domains of shared human endeavor can be characterized as Force, Trade and mutual aspiration, which I abbreviate as Love.
Force in its pure form is a win-lose proposition, with a paramount leader, who co-opts and subordinates the power, volition and resources of all those being led. Examples range from primitive tribal chieftains to cult leaders, those running prison camps and police states, and slavery. The unitary leader or faction at the top is the only winner.
In Trade, the job of the leader is to facilitate the production, as inexpensively and attractively as possible, of goods or services for which others will want to exchange a possession of perceived equal value, in order to obtain what the trading-partner is offering. The trade can be barter, or an apple for a dollar, a movie ticket for ten, a house swap, prostitution, bitcoins or a painting by Leonardo de Vinci for nearly half-a-billion dollars. Trade can be accomplished with a Coke machine, by mail or electronically. The parties have no continuing interest in each other after concluding the trade, generally do not wish one another ill, but retain their detachment with no further connectivity, at least until the next interaction, which is why trade is so prevalent on line. It is a win-null situation.
When Love is the motivator, the intended outcomes are shared benefit, mutual satisfaction and, most importantly, continuing affiliation. It is a win-win situation, and the intention is to maintain it that way. Obviously, this is present in a caring and compatible couple or family, but also in tennis twosomes, string quartets, and successful churches, colleges, hospitals, not-for-profit agencies and businesses. (It would be naïve not to acknowledge that most human interactions, even intimate ones, mix elements of Force, Trade and Love. Lincoln combined Force and Love, Picasso Trade and Love. Walt Disney, arguably, all three. But, usually, one domain is dominant.) We know them when we see them, and many of them are not all that famous. They are heads of nursing staffs, principals of schools, park superintendents, small-business-owners, youth-league coaches and grandmothers. Love leadership is more challenging with larger populations, but it is not impossible, and if it is pursued, it can be achieved. If it were achieved, it could transform the world.
Too often, the elevation of Love Leadership is disparaged or dismissed, as soft, as sentimental, as frivolous, as expendable. So, people don’t make the effort, and then we grumble about being in such dire straits, with malevolent governments, trivial enervating consumerism and disconnected lives: isolation, stress, fear and sadness.
The antidote is the elevation of Love Leadership, at least to parity with the other two and ultimately toward preeminence. First it needs to be a mindset, then actions and ultimately a way of being. It is the only certain vehicle to a world that truly works for everyone.
Marty Krasney is the founder of Dalai Lama Fellows. More about him here.