Since 2004, the amount of money spent on Valentine’s Day has climbed dramatically (48%). In 2004 Americans spent $12 billion; in 2016 it was near $20 billion. Men outspent women by nearly 100 percent. But are we learning anything about real love?

We don’t typically think of love and leadership as words that go together. I suggest they are more connected than what it appears.

I was captivated recently by an article that highlighted the heroics of Joe DaSilva; a West Point graduate and new Army officer with no battle experience. Bill Murray Jr. writes, “Hours before the invasion, [DaSilva] gathered his soldiers and gave them a subdued but inspiring speech. It ended with his promise, “I don’t know what awaits us on the other side…but if I have to give my life for any of you, I will do it in a heartbeat.”

Murray continues, “Great leadership—at West Point and everywhere—has a lot to do with love. Not romantic love or unconditional love but that caring, passionate drive that binds teams together to accomplish goals greater than any individual among them could imagine.”

Rick Warren once remarked, “Great leaders genuinely care for and love the people they lead more than they love leading itself.” Bill Hybels concludes that “Self-sacrificing love is at the very core of leadership.” Jesus said the greatest act of love is laying down one’s life for another. In fact, the very description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 are characteristics of mature, loving relationships and, I might add, of leadership as well.

While we may not be called to lay down our lives, we can embrace love in leadership. How do leaders love?  I believe they do it through people, processes, and content.

They love to practice self-sacrificing service. That’s people. They love fueling an authentic and creative culture. That’s process. They love the mission. That’s content.

Step out and show your leadership-love with those around you. Model a culture of authenticity. Embrace your mission with passion.

Leadership is love.

How might you practice leadership as love today?

Dennis Nichols serves as Lead Faculty for the Master of Arts in Leadership program