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Love + Honesty + Self-Reflection = Good Leadership

This straightforward equation fosters good leadership: Love, plus honesty, plus self-reflection. Straightforward doesn’t mean easy. Making use of the equation in the midst of leadership challenges can require hard work and conscious effort.

Here’s a look at the elements of the equation.


In this context love means appreciation, respect and a deep sense of human connection. Begin with self-love, then expand to love of those you serve including the people who irritate or anger you.

Love does not mean accepting and tolerating just any behavior. Clear boundaries are an important component of both love of self and others.

Love does mean valuing and respecting each person no matter how much you disagree with what they are saying or doing.

Self-love sometimes requires development through intentional work, including such approaches as spiritual practices, journaling, therapy, or learning to forgive self and others.

Some people spend a lifetime learning to love and value themselves, and may benefit from outside help first to work through past trauma or abuse that has affected their view of self.


Honesty in this equation involves a balance between looking inward for candid self-assessment and reaching outward with a willingness to share one’s truth with others.

Self-honesty involves being willing to admit and accept truths about oneself including both strengths and growing edges. Self-reflection without honesty lacks value. On the other hand, highly critical self-reflection without self-love destroy good leadership.

Reaching outward with honesty means having the courage and confidence to tell other people the truth as you see it. But once again, highly critical honesty without a love that is felt and understood by those you speak to can be destructive.

At the same time, no matter how much love one has, simply speaking one’s mind without honest inner reflection and sensitivity to others can damage communities and relationships, especially when you are a leader.


Looking inward and assessing one’s own strengths and growing edges in an honest and loving way is a crucial component of good leadership.

Sometimes self-reflection can benefit from listening to others, then reflecting on the validity of what is said. Balance is important when listening to others. Neither compliments nor criticisms give the full truth, but only pieces of a greater picture.

Seek out people who help you to be honest and loving, as well as self-reflective.

Engage in activities aimed at good self-reflection. This can include things such as prayer, journal writing, therapy, spiritual direction and support groups.

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