top of page

About Love and Leadership: Lessons from 30 Years Together

Angela surprised me yesterday when she said, 'You know, we really deserve credit for lasting 30 years together.' The remark made me smile. 'Was it that hard for you?' I joked.

Thirty years ago, in the basement of Brussels University, Angela and I shared our first kiss during a completely crazy student party. We celebrated this anniversary last night with food, wine, and a good chat.

I have to admit, Angela has a point: maintaining our relationship for so long has been challenging. We each have our own personal journeys, and it is easy sometimes to forget the us, especially with kids, work, and the pressures of everyday life.

So, yesterday, we sat down to brainstorm the main factors that have helped our love last, and surprisingly, they parallel the foundation of effective leadership. Somehow, it makes sense: love is leadership, and true leadership is about love.

So take it from a couple that’s made it 30 years who also happen to be an executive coach and an e-commerce entrepreneur. Here are the elements to make both last:

  • Intention: How often do we forget what we want most? Be it “We’ll go through this storm together”, “I’ll save this factory from closing” or “We will become net zero”, staying connected with what we truly desire is a challenge. Love and leadership are about remembering the destination. With both, we want to navigate through life's turmoil with purpose and determination. To arrive, we need clarity on our path.


  • Attention: We think we know ourselves so well — till the pressure comes and we forget. How often did I fight with Angela because I felt diminished when she re-cleaned the kitchen after I did it? For Alexander, a senior leader and coaching client, the challenge is micromanaging under pressure. He knows it doesn’t help, but he turns to this behaviour as it’s often the only thing accessible in the moment. Love and leadership are about being able to identify our automatism in the moment and make space for more meaningful behaviours. Self-awareness is the key.


  • Deep understanding: There is a powerful Zen practice I’ve been using for years. I see you, I know you suffer, and I wish you suffered less. I meditate silently on these words in the moment during interactions with others, whether at home or in the office. While these may seem like very unlikely words to use in a corporate environment—compassion is not yet trending in leadership books—it is a powerful leadership stance. Striving sincerely to understand and support our partner, teams, clients, or other stakeholders fosters deep mutual respect. It inspires trust and a strong sense of safety and creativity.

Angela was right: we deserve some credit. Sitting down together to reflect, acknowledging our difficulties and the amazing moments together on our 30-year journey was humbling. Realizing that the strength of our bond lies in three simple and deep leadership principles—intention, attention, and deep understanding—gives me a fresh perspective.

Love is leadership and true leadership is about love. Enjoy both.


Manu Henrard is a Executive Somatic Coach and an Executive Recruiter based in Brussels. He is also an associate from the Strozzi Institute for embodied leadership. Manu's professional commitment is to help leaders increase meaningful productivity and achieve inner peace. More about his coaching program here.


bottom of page