It’s relatively easy to love our friends at work, those purposeful actors that struggle with us to build something bigger and better than ourselves. Our friends provide us safe harbor when the storms of work roll in.
But real leaders love their enemies.
Recall my very specific definition of enemies: anyone that consistently puts their own self-interest ahead of the shared purpose. Because we have to take a stand against these folks that disregard our purpose, our enemies define our leadership.
Enemies are an integral part of our purposeful pursuit. Instead of bemoaning enemies, we should anticipate them and prepare to embrace their continual presence in our lives. We certainly don’t want to destroy them, and we can’t allow them to destroy us.
Here are 8 ways that leaders can develop the capacity to love their enemies:
1.Confrontation. We don’t do either our enemies or ourselves any favors by ignoring their destructive behavior. We have to have the courage to say what we think and fight for what we believe in.
2. Respect. We respect our enemies by telling them the truth to their face. We should not feel compelled to hold our tongues in public about the behavior we object to, but our enemies need to hear it first from us in person.
3. Restraint. When our enemies do not show us the same respect that we show them, we have to resist our strong desire to retaliate or express our anger.
4. Kindness. One of the hardest things we have to do as leaders is to care about people that don’t care about us. We are never relieved of that responsibility. Despise the behavior, but never the person.
5. Assistance. We don’t dump on our enemies by telling them “this sucks, so do you, and you better change it – or else!” We have to see ourselves as a resource for our enemies to find their way to more purposeful behavior.
8. Humility. Win our lose, it’s not about us, it’s always about the purpose. Relationships will need to be renegotiated and repaired after the conflict, so we can’t allow hubris to rear it’s ugly head.
If you can accept it, enemies are a blessing for the purposeful leader. Leaders that can see the big picture appreciate enemies as simply a part of the process of achieving a purpose worthy of hard work and sacrifice.