The Ten Commandments of Lovable Leadership

  • Jeff Gibbard
  • 5 min read

In advance of the completion of my book, the Lovable Leader, I wanted to share with you the basic tenants that my philosophy is based upon.

Lovable Leadership is the answer to a question: what would a job look like if you truly loved where you work?

As a leader, keep these ten commandments.

1. Be lovable.

What makes people lovable? They are kind, they are generous, they care about us. They bring positivity and light into a room, and they resolve even tough issues with grace and class.

To be lovable you must bring love to others. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Listen when they speak.

Don’t ACT lovable…BE lovable.

You can be that person, it just requires a little bit more effort…at first.

2. Be a cheerleader.

Be the first to acknowledge people. Don’t make this an item on your to-do list. People can see through false praise and hollow words. Truly find it in yourself to see the other person for their contributions, acknowledge them in a way that honors their hard work. And if someone has been “phoning it in” but recently made even a small improvement, acknowledge them. It’s amazing how being noticed can change someone’s day.

3. Sit on the same side of the table.

You can say the same thing in two different ways, and if one of those ways makes suggests that the other person was wrong for their action, the other person will naturally feel defensive and launch into a campaign to justify themselves. The conversation will grind to a halt.

So, in a way, this method of framing things is like a super-power.

Imagine you’re having a conversation with someone and you are sitting across from them. You’ve been in this situation before: a job interview, a performance review, a first date. So many of these interactions provoke anxiety. In this case, someone is talking TO or AT you. You are the audience of this monologue. You have no power. All of the feedback is about what you can improve upon, and even when nestled in between the obligatory positive feedback, it still feels subordinate.

Instead, do what I call “sit on the same side of the table.” I’m not suggesting you actually sit on the same side of the table, it’s a metaphor. Think of the times you’ve sat on the same side of the table with people. Maybe it was a date, maybe you were with family, or close friends. In these scenarios, you feel calm and open; in this case, someone is talking WITH you.

To sit on the same side of the table is simple: talk about common goals, and work together to get there. That means you have to include what the other person wants instead of just handing down commandments to them.

Try this way of mental framing before your next difficult conversation and watch how it dramatically changes they outcome.

4. Focus on goals. Work backwards from there.

There is no leader without a destination. Focus on that end point and get your entire team moving toward it.

5. Remember that you are not more important or better than anyone else on your team.

It’s so easy to take your fancy title, or impressive CV and assume that you are better than the people who work “under” you. But you wouldn’t be there without them, and if you keep that attitude, they might not be there very long. Check your ego. Sometimes you’ll need to take out the trash or do the dishes.

6. Commitments drive action

According to Robert Cialdini’s landmark book on Influence, commitment is one of the 6 “weapons of influence.”

Wield that weapon with respect by using it only when working with your team toward accomplishing your common goals and the work that grows them.

If you can present scenarios that are reasonable to your teammate, and invite them to commit to an action or outcome, they are more likely to follow through. Additionally, you will have created the conditions for a conversation about accountability in the event it does not happen. If that conversation is necessary, sit on the same side of the table.

7. Raise intensity, not your voice.

Raising your voice is a signal that you’ve lost control over your intentions.

8. Always take full accountability

If you want to be a leader, you have to step up, and that means taking on MORE responsibility, not LESS. You are not only responsible for your work, but for everyone that reports to you. If they fail, it is partly a failure of leadership. If you adopt the alternative mindset, you have no power to affect change, only to blame.

9. Remember to take care of yourself.

Is this really the 9th commandment? NO, it’s actually the first. Your physical, mental, and emotional health are the underlying factor that allows you to do everything else. You cannot be a lovable leader if you do not love yourself. Loving yourself means taking care of yourself.

10. It’s not about you.

Leadership is about accomplishing goals and growing others. Put your ego aside and try to make everyone better than yourself. Focus your attention on growing each member of your team. If you take care of them, they will take care of you.


I’m taking on three leadership coaching clients absolutely FREE for 3 months.

Want that to be you? Contact me and tell me why I should pick you.


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2 replies on “The Ten Commandments of Lovable Leadership”

  • Alex Szeliga
    January 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Man I wish I was still running a team.

    #4 is my personal ethos. I think it has a counterpart:

    #also4: Planning to avoid specific pitfalls is the same as not focusing on goals.

    ‘I’m gonna do *X* just in case *Y* crops up’ translates to ‘I’m gonna go solve some problems that don’t exist yet, and ignore ones that do.’

    • January 22, 2019 at 3:20 pm

      Excellent point. To remain goal-focused certainly doesn’t mean “reverse engineer every possible thing that could go wrong between now and then.” That’s a recipe for playing whack a mole forever.

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