I fondly recall my grade school days with the big box with the slot on top that sat on the teacher's desk. When you arrived at your classroom in the morning you deposited your signed valentines in the box.
At the end of the day you got a cupcake, and then all the valentines in the big box were distributed.
Valentines were mostly expressions of friendship, so boys gave valentines to boys with no concern over the amorous message. And you also included girls you wanted to talk to at recess or sit next to on the bus. Everyone got valentines; everyone had a great time. And everyone snickered to his or her friends about who was trying to court whom.
So where is the everyday leadership lesson?
"Be My Valentine" is an Invitation. It is the opposite of a demand or command. It is a sincere request, like saying, "Be my friend" or "I need your advice" or "Your ideas would be very helpful." Leaders who approach their role as an invitation to followership, not a demand for obedience, gain the allegiance of those they influence. Commands gain compliance; invitations encourage commitment.
A Valentine is Egalitarian, the core of partnership. It fuels a sense of ownership that results in empowerment. Egalitarian stems from an orientation of respect and an attitude of cooperation. Leaders who promote teamwork and partnership view themselves more like an orchestra conductor and not a taskmaster.
A Valentine is Celebative. Great organizational cultures are those that cultivate a spirit of passion and a giving to others. Celebration is not an event, but rather code for affirmation and valuing. It is leaders who are quick to thank and eager to support. It is leaders who view their role as serving those that serve the customer or colleague.
Be your associates' valentine and watch them succeed!