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Summary And Review of Love Leadership by John Hope Bryant

Summary And Review of Love Leadership by John Hope Bryant

Executive Summary

John Hope Bryant is from Southern California and well known as the founder of the Operation HOPE.  He is also known as a financial adviser and poverty eradication activist.  He was born on February 6, 1966 in Los Angeles.  His parents split up at an early age, in which he shared time with both parents separately. At a young age, Bryant witnessed his father lose their home to a financial predator by refinancing and charging higher unaffordable interest rates after a certain period of time. This inspired Bryant later in life to create an organization to help fight individuals against these predators.

Bryant wrote the book titled Love Leadership to express the idea of leading with love in a fear-based business world.  He tells about his many experiences he has gained from his early childhood all the way up to his life as the CEO of HOPE.  He expresses how love leadership can improve your style of leading others as well improve yourself altogether.

Bryant provides five total chapters in his book along with a foreword, introduction, and conclusion.  The foreword was written very well by Bill George, whom is also the author of the book True North.  Bill George expresses how this book is very marvelous and has affected his life. He also shares his experiences using love leadership. He explains how Bryant has so much more of a deeper and more insightful understand of what it means to lead with love.  After the foreword, there is a quick introduction.  In the introduction, Bryant tells about his childhood with his mother and father.  Bryant talks about his father losing his home as well as some of the random businesses his mother and father ran.  He explains that his father has bad budgeting and spending habits, but a good working ethic, and his mother taught him budgeting as she learned early in her childhood. 

After the introduction, Bryant starts the chapters in the book.  Each chapter represents each law of love leadership.  Throughout each chapter, Bryant breaks down the meanings of each law as well as how he has experienced them in his life.  The reason these laws are so impacting is because Bryant actually learned all of these laws by mistakes he made along to way to success. 

Before the book is closed out, Bryant gives a conclusion that rallies all of his laws together to make his last point about why people should have a love-based leadership.  He expresses on why it is so important to have this style of leadership due to the global economic crisis we face today.  He expresses how this is all a huge wake-up call to our country, because so many companies and organizations are being run incorrectly.   Just as HOPE was an organization to rebuild southern California and the rest of the country, Bryant expresses that love leadership is the tool to build our country and help it improve our economic crisis.

The Ten Things Managers Need to Know fromLove Leadership

1.            Loss creates leaders.  Experience of loss creates passionate leaders that look to succeed.

2.            Most people find strengths in external forces such as money, power, and titles.  Things that make a leader are on the inside such as integrity, wisdom, confidence, vulnerability, and passion.

3.            Fear fails. Going through life living in fear only holds you back from innovation. You want take risks, and you will not provide new talents.

4.            Ego and greed are two major motivators of fear.  Fear will get you nowhere in the business world today.

5.            Charity begins at home.  You have feel good about yourself before you can feel good about someone else.  You have to have confidence in yourself to have confidence in someone else.

6.            Fear-based leadership is short-term.  It may provide immediate success but is destine to fail.  Love-based leadership is based on long-term. 

7.            Build long-term relationship with your followers.  Go the extra mile and treat them very well.  Get personal with them.  This will keep them loyal forever.

8.            Money is a by-product of love leadership; it is not a direct product.  Love leadership will provide true wealth.

9.            Vulnerability is power.  Admit you made a mistake when you made it.  Don’t lie or dance around the facts.  Your follows are more likely to forgive you and work towards a solution.

10.            Giving is getting.  Developing a relationship with others, helping them out when they are in need, and giving them 110% effort will benefit you just as much as it will them. 

Full Summary of Love Leadership


Loss is the very first law of love leadership.  Loss is the very reason John Hope Bryant is who he is today.  It has motivated him to help groups and individuals all over the country through an organization known as HOPE.


John Hope Bryant grew up in southern California between Compton and South Los Angeles.  During his childhood, he witnessed many conflictions between his mother and his father.  They eventually split up due to Bryant’s father taking the college funding of John’s brother.  John went to live with his father.  His father was targeted by a financial predator, and they eventually lost their home.  This made John realize how poorly financially managed his father was.  John then started at a private school for acting.  This led to many job opportunities in his young acting career.  For the first time, John was making a substantial amount of money.  John was taken in by bad spending habits and failing business attempts.  They were the same poorly managed financial issues his father experienced early in John’s life.  John eventually lost his home as well, ending up living in his Jeep just behind an airport in Los Angeles.  Even today, when John passes this very same airport, he is reminded that poor financial decision making can put him right back in the same place.


Everyday John meets with top CEO’s of very large corporations dealing with the current involvements in his HOPE Organization.  He does not fear any of these CEO’s because the loss of everything he once experienced has given him so much confidence in living life.  When people experience loss, they deal with it in one of three ways.  They can give up, cope or avoid the conflict, or they can accept and learn from the experience.  Learning from the experience creates the best leadership out there. It helps you learn more about yourself. Without loss, how would we stand strong? We wouldn’t know how. Loss teaches leadership. These are things learned from personal experience which can make you very passionate about leading others in these same areas.


Most great leaders have all experienced some type of great loss in their lives before they were able to lead the way they did.  Franklin D. Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio at age 39.  He led The United States of America out of the depression and served four terms as president.  Candice Lightner lost her thirteen year old daughter to a drunk driver.  She then created the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers organization which has saved many lives.  Martin Luther King Jr. experienced loss throughout his entire life.  He was abandoned, beaten, stabbed, and eventually killed for his beliefs, but he never gave up.  He has changed this country forever. “Loss strips away your physical crutches, and even your emotional crutches, and leaves you with nothing but the spirit. And in the spirit lies your true power.”


Through an acquaintance of Dave O’Meara the owner of Malibu Cinemas, John was then hired by a private merchant banking company.  He was asked to sell equity loans.  John realized this is the same time of predatory lending his father fell victim to and proposed to his boss a new division in lending.  In the first year, John failed his California real estate test three times, and made zero revenue.  The next year he finally passed that real estate test and turned small revenue of million. A few years later he was bringing in million and ended up buying the division out to start Bryant Group Companies.


During the early 90’s, South California experienced some harsh times.  The Rodney King trials were going on, and fires spread throughout destroying neighborhoods.  One thing Bryant noticed was the buildings being burned down were not owned homes, they were leases and businesses. Bryant noticed the people of the area were very frustrated but did not destroy their own.  With the help of Bryant’s pastor, Bryant had the courage to lead a bus filled with bankers into the heart of these neighborhoods to help rebuild.  During these visits they were able to meet business owners, and provide them with loans to rebuild their business and life.  This was the creation of the operation called HOPE. HOPE is an organization to helped “poor communities who lacked banking services; who lacked financial literacy; who lacked a path to home ownership; who lacked a path to economic self-sufficiency; who lacked dignity, power, or even the simple courtesy of a returned telephone call.”  So, because of loss, Bryant has learned a lot and progressed forward.  Unlike most individuals, the success didn’t get to Bryant, and in return he started an organization to help poor communities across the country.   Loss is the first rule of love leadership.


Every leader faces what we call fear.  Fear is only a simple feeling that leads directly to failure.  Love, however, is not just a feeling.  It also requires thinking.  Love is an emotion that stays with you as fear fades away. The second law in love leadership is that fear fails.


In the business world, there are to major motivators of fear; ego and greed. In business life, people go to work fearing they will lose their job.  In the end, this only hurts them.  Going to work in fear, holds their unique personalities back.  It prevents them from trying, as they are afraid they will fail.  It prevents them from taking risks, so they won’t be innovative.  Fear only holds people back. You have to start believing in yourself to believe in others. Love yourself so that you are able to love others as well. Know what your purpose in life is instead of fearing it.


There are businesses from large to small all over the globe that is based off fear leadership.  Henry Ford II is a good example of fear leadership. He is known for firing staff for no apparent reason.  It is reported that 37% of American worked are being bullied at work, mostly by their bosses. Fear-based leaders share some of the characteristics as most great leaders.  They both are very charismatic and intelligent.  Although they are similar, fear-based leaders tend to criticize unfairly, blame others for their mistakes, steal credit, make unreasonable demands, deny accomplishments, and issue threats.  This is like comparing Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler, Dr. Martin Luther King to Joseph Stalin, or Gandhi to Osama Bin Laden. 


One problem with today’s business world is that it tries to make as many shortcuts to success as possible. It is fearing and lazy. Leading with fear may cause your business to take off for the moment, but it will eventually collapse. Our economy is a prime example of this.  The market has taken on severe loss to foreclosed homes.  This has caused a terrible crisis to the country’s economy.


In this section of the book, Bryant discusses about a time he led out of fear.  They had to put together a cybercafé in L.A. for Al Gore, the vice president at the time.  This needed to be done in two weeks. Bryant took in a lot of stress trying to put together this cybercafé.  He unloaded a lot of stress and drama on other individuals around him.  Towards the end of the project, he snapped and yelled and cursed.  He was then sat down by a volunteer named Rod McGrew, who had helped HOPE for 8 years.  Rod told him that he forgave him because he knew Bryant was so stressed, but he needed to fix things.  This is a lesson Bryant has learned from experience.  Leading out of fear is a short term fix that will eventually crumble in the end.


Bryant outsmarted Fila and Ellesse by traveling to Mexico to pick up merchandize, then returning home to sell this at a cheaper price to earn profits.  Fila and Ellesse picked up on this and attempted to sue Bryant putting him out of business in legal fees.  Bryant walked away. Bryant learned from the experience and realized he needed to do more for his community and less for himself.  He learned the next law of love leadership; love makes money.


Money is a by-product of leading with love.  Leading with love is doing something simply because you care, not out of greed or lust. Bill gates didn’t start Microsoft simply because he wanted to make billions of dollars.  This came because he obsessed about an idea of software was designed to simply be user friendly for everyone.  Leading with love is thinking about others more than you.  Gates designed software to make using a computer easier for others. The money he made from this idea was a by-product.


Leading with fear is short-term, but leading with love is long-term.  As a leader, leading with love insures your place in the future.  If you lead with love, people will follow you forever.  Leading with fear hurts your reputation, brand, and your future.  Leading with love is the only way to lead if you want to last.


Long-term relationships drive love leadership. Bryant learned through trial and error that if he was nice, he would make 1 sale.  That client wouldn’t return the next year.  He learned by developing a long-term relationship with the client, he would make 20 or so sales and establish the type of relationship that would keep the client coming back each year. Don’t treat each client as a transaction, treat them as a friend. Ask about their families, hobbies, etc. It is the same with your employees.  If you create a good relationship with your employees, they will always follow you as their leader.  


Creating a genuine relationship with someone is not the only thing that needs to be done to make money.  Bryant goes over your purpose in life.  The biggest asset a person has is not their money, job, or even family.  It is you.  If you use this asset to do good, the rest will follow.   In return you will receive true wealth.  True wealth isn’t just money; it is spiritual, intellectual, and emotional as well. Following this law will make you wealthy and wise.


In this chapter, Bryant talks about HOPE as it went through harsh times as the economy fell.  He also adopts a rule he learned from Oprah.  Do business with companies that are credible and have as much to lose as you do. Vulnerability is power is the fourth law of love leadership.


When things go bad, fear-based leadership tend to make leaders lie about situations, make critical poor decisions, and close off their relationship with their followers.  A love based leadership is quite the opposite.  When you are honest and accept your mistakes openly, people are more likely to forgive you.  Bryant talks about how HOPE climbed out of a financial revenue crisis and is now hitting their revenue mark for 2009.


Bryant expresses that by following love leadership, being vulnerable is a must.  When you make a mistake be sure to be open about it.  People will stand beside you when you make mistakes.  There are ladder climbers and ladder makers.  If a ladder maker makes a mistake, their steps are strong, and so they will not fall.  A ladder climber however will see their steps collapse for all the people they stepped on making their way up.


Deliver bad news and admit mistakes as soon as they progress. The sooner you get this information out the better. Do not hold it in and wait for the problem to find you.  To admit your mistake is an act of love.  To hold it in is an act of fear.


Giving is giving is the fifth and final law of love leadership.  This chapter discusses how giving is the true gift of a leader.  When you give passionately, the gift you will receive is unbeatable.


In this section of the chapter, Bryant expresses that as a love leader, your employers or customers are not your servants, in fact, you are their servant.  Have a deep passion for helping the people you are leading.  Make sure your decisions benefit your followers, not just you.  In return they will follow you for life.


Make sure you are involved throughout your entire campaign.  Be at all of the meetings even if you aren’t speaking.  Get involved in the classes or teachings of your followers.  Go and personally meet your clients.  Get involved as much as possible, and do it as much or more than your followers.  If you are greatly involved and carry your relationship to the next level, you will receive as well.


Give more than one hundred percent to your employees, because you will receive just that much in return. You cannot grow as a company or as an individual by giving bare minimum. Create a positive reinforcing environment and your organization will do better.   This is the last stepping stone to love leadership.

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Personal Insights

With the business conditions today, what the author wrote is definitely true.  Leadership that is based on fear will only get you so far with your followers.  Fear based leadership sets up for failure, while leadership based on love is set to achieve only the highest goals.  Today’s business world needs very strong leaders, because there is so much more than just telling employees what to do.  Fear-based organizations fail after a short-term success, while love leadership-based organizations strive as long as they are doing good.  With the Global economy hurting as much as it is, leaders must do everything in their will to improve and move their organization forward.

Then, all of the following bullet-items are mandatory to write about:

If I were the author of the book, I would have done these three things differently:

1.            Gone more into depth.  Bryant talks a lot about his personal experiences.  I just think that readers would get more out of the book if Bryant wrote more about how to accomplish beinga love-based leader.

2.            Even though I enjoyed it thoroughly, I felt like I was reading a biography about Bryant instead of the teachings from his life experiences.  He praised himself too much towards the end of the book, which counteracts the entire point of the book.

3.            Bryant could have possibly written a little more about examples of fear-based leadership companies failing.  He mentioned one or two, but I just think more would support his theory a little more.

Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:

1.            It really helped me see the poor mishaps of a lot of current companies.  Fear-based leadership is involved in a lot of companies here in the United States.

2.            It has really made me aware of the financial predators out in the world today.  I already knew they existed, but I didn’t realize to what extent.

3.            I didn’t really understand how far leading with love can really go in the work environment.  I somewhat thought it would be appropriate to lead with a little more force.

I’ll apply what I’ve learned in this book in my career by:

1.            Developing a better relationship with each and every follower or employee. 

2.            Being more open about mistakes I make, and coming out with them as soon as I know I was wrong.

3.            Opting out fear.  Fear is short-term success followed by failure.  I will develop more a love-based leadership for long-term effects.

Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:

“This morning, I finished reading "Love Leadership: The New Way To Lead in a Fear-Based World", by John Hope Bryant. This book advocates that the best long-term success is driven by people who lead others with love, caring, and respect. For 17 years, John Hope Bryant has lead his company, Operation HOPE, using these guiding principals; and, as a result, during the worst economic crisis in decades, he manages to continue on without having to let go of a single employee. This is impressive unto itself; but, when you realize that Operation HOPE is a non-profit and that much of its funding came from, and continues to come from companies currently under tremendous financial stress, the power of building "personal relationships" with your partners and vendors becomes exceedingly evident.”


Nadel, Ben. (2009).  Love Leadership: The New Way To Lead In A Fear-Based World By John Hope Bryant.  Retrieved from http://www.bennadel.com/blog/1779-Love-Leadership-The-New-Way-To-Lead-In-A-Fear-Based-World-By-John-Hope-Bryant.htm


Contact Info: To contact the author of this “Summary and Review of Love Leadership,” please email ryan.anderson-2@selu.edu.


David C. Wyld (dwyld.kwu@gmail.com) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (http://reverseauctionresearch.blogspot.com/), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. Dr. Wyld also maintains compilations of works he has helped his students to turn into editorially-reviewed publications at the following sites:

Management Concepts (http://toptenmanagement.blogspot.com/)

Book Reviews (http://wyld-about-books.blogspot.com/) and

Travel and International Foods (http://wyld-about-food.blogspot.com/).