What is a Real Leader?

The photo above is of Samantha Thomas, Executive Director of Dream Change (the nonprofit I founded more than 30 years ago), and me at an economic forum in Astana, Kazakhstan this past June.

Samantha is the creator of and heart and soul behind Dream Change’s Love Summit, an annual conference aimed at inspiring and empowering companies to change the world through heart-centered business practices.

Instead of writing my own newsletter at this time, I’d like to share an incredible interview (see below) that Samantha did with Real Leaders magazine about why love is important in business.

I hope to see you at the Love Summit on October 12th and 13th in Cincinnati.

*The interview below was originally posted in Real Leaders magazine.

Samantha Thomas (above), founder of the Love Summit, explains why love is a viable factor for improving the triple bottom line of business, and for solving the most pressing social, environmental and economic issues of our time.

What is your favorite definition of a Real Leader?

It’s not a definition, per se, but this quote has always expressed exactly how I feel about real leadership:

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu 

What is your first memory that made you want to make a positive difference in the world?

My experience in school as a child. I remember being puzzled by the fact that some children were treated better by teachers than others. I also recall being troubled by the lack of acceptance and inclusion for others by my peers. I always felt the urge to include and notice people, especially when they weren’t being included or seen by others. I wanted everyone to be seen and appreciated—to know that they mattered.

Who has been the greatest inspiration for the work you do today, and why?

My extraordinary mother. She has taught me about the importance of living the acts of love and compassion for as long as I can remember. I consider her wisdom to be the most useful education of my life so far, as I’ve learned that exercising the qualities of love and compassion not only enables others to realize their full potential—it also allows me to understand people better, which I consider one of the greatest assets in life.

When we let go of our pre-conceived notions about the way we think a person should be, we set them (and ourselves) free from the falsehood of limits, boundaries and restrictions. By acting with compassion, we open the door for everyone around us to be fully seen and understood, to be recognized as important and meaningful in this world—something that is so very crucial to each human’s happiness and wellbeing.

What is the one thing you want everyone to know about the Love Summit?

The Love Summit addresses the underlying cause of the most pressing social, environmental and economic problems we face in the world today. When we look at inequity in society, the degradation of our environment, or the lack of stability in our global economy—these issues can all be traced back to an absence of love and compassion for people and the planet.

As we continue to invest in renewable energy and advance technology, it’s critical to remember that a truly evolved, sustainable world is only possible if we can start treating people and the planet from a place of love.

What role does love play in business?

Love doesn’t just play a role in business, it’s the key to business. Business is simply about relationships—the relationships with all the people we work with, buy from and sell to. All healthy relationships are, in one way or another, based on love.

If that sounds fluffy to you, consider the fact that employees who feel love perform better. This performance results in higher engagement. Higher engagement means increased productivity, and that leads to higher productivity and increased profits. It’s very simple. Humans are smart, but we have this self-inflicting tendency to over-complicate things.

Business is simple. Life is simple. Be a good person. Treat each other with kindness, love and compassion. And take a little patience with you along the way, because being kind, loving and compassionate is not always easy—it requires lots of strength and courage.

What is your definition of a Real Leader?

A Real Leader always does the right thing, even when it isn’t easy. She acts from a place of compassion, inclusiveness and integrity. A Real Leader works to create more leaders, not more followers.

When is the next Love Summit, and how do we get tickets?

The next Love Summit is coming up on October 12th & 13th at LPK Brand Innovation Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tickets can be purchased at lovesummit2017.eventbrite.com.

The program and speaker lineup can be seen at dreamchange.org.

About John Perkins

John is a founder and board member of Dream Change & The Pachamama Alliance, non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future generations will want to inherit & the author of the NY Times bestseller, Confessions Of An Economic Hitman.

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