Great Leadership Starts with Self Leadership | Dr. Maria Church

Great leadership starts with self leadership

The realm of leadership has evolved over time, transitioning from authoritative approaches to more compassionate and heart-centered methodologies. Dr. Maria Church, an expert in organizational culture change and leadership development, has been a pioneer in introducing the concept of “Love-Based Leadership.”

In her bestselling book, “Love-Based Leadership: Leading with Strength, Grace, and Authenticity,” she delves into a model that redefines leadership as a holistic, mind-body-spirit approach. This article explores the realms of leadership, intention, commitment, love, the interplay between fear and love, and the profound impact of commitment and love on leadership, both within oneself and in relationships with others.

Let’s explore the journey of Dr. Maria Church and her philosophy of Love-Based Leadership.


The Journey of Love-Based Leadership

Dr. Church’s journey of Love-Based Leadership began during her doctoral studies in organizational leadership. She identified a gap in existing leadership models and theories, prompting her to create a holistic approach rooted in love. While formulating her Love-Based Leadership model, she encountered resistance, particularly from academic institutions. People hesitated to connect love with leadership because they thought it was a controversial idea. Despite initial obstacles, Dr. Church’s commitment to her vision prevailed. She navigated through leadership’s transformation from the rigid “iron fist” style to a more empathetic and compassionate approach. And then finally, around a decade ago, Dr. Church authored “Love-Based Leadership,” a groundbreaking book that challenged conventional leadership norms. This pioneering work introduced a model that combined strength, grace, and authenticity while infusing love into leadership practices.


Defining Leadership in a Multidimensional Way

Dr. Church emphasizes that leadership should encompass mind, body, and spirit. This holistic approach encourages leaders to bring their entire selves to the table, whether or not they hold formal positions of authority. While intellect and experience are crucial, the spirit and heart aspect of leadership bring depth, passion, and connection. She emphasizes the synergy between the intellect and the heart. This connection taps into the individual’s sense of purpose and why, fostering a powerful bond between leadership and meaningful action. This heart-centered leadership is purpose-driven and encourages individuals to engage fully, bringing passion and commitment to their roles.



Love-Based Leadership

Dr. Church’s Love-Based Leadership model emphasizes honoring, valuing, caring, and respecting others. It is a commitment to lead with love rather than an obligation, enabling leaders to create genuine and meaningful connections. Love-Based Leadership is synonymous with commitment because commitment to oneself and to others builds trust, which is the pillar of effective leadership. She believes that a promise wrapped in love is the basis for nurturing an authentic leader-follower relationship.


Leading with Intention in Love-Based Leadership

Dr. Church emphasizes the importance of intention in leadership. For her, intention means being mindful, present, and clear about one’s goals in conversations and relationships. Intention is more than just a thought; it’s a commitment to act in a way that aligns with the desired connection. This aligns perfectly with the idea that leadership is about taking action, moving towards one’s goals, and overcoming fears.


Commitment and Self-Connection in Love-Based Leadership

She describes commitment as the true essence of love. She illustrates this with a mother’s commitment to her newborn. She further adds that commitment is a two-sided coin. In leadership, commitment is not only a promise to others but also a promise to oneself to consistently show up and lead authentically, ultimately building trust and connection.

Dr. Church explains that the level of commitment to oneself reflects how one shows up in the world and moves through life. Leading with commitment requires trust-building actions that align with one’s intentions. She contrasts this with mere obligation, emphasizing that true commitment is a promise rooted in love and genuine care.


Transitioning from Old Paradigm to New

Reflecting on her own journey, Dr. Church recalls initially hiding her authentic self and beliefs while starting her business. However, she realized the power of embracing love-based leadership and authenticity. As she integrated this approach into her work, she found that people were drawn to her message, leading to meaningful connections. Dr. Church acknowledges that leading from love has become an integral part of her identity, influencing how she shows up in both personal and professional spheres.


Perception Shifting and Bridging Fear and Love

During her journey, she also highlights the power of shifting from a fear-based mindset to a love-based approach in making business decisions. This transformation not only improved her business but also strengthened her relationships and connections with others. One chapter in Dr. Church’s book focuses on perception shifting. She shares the story of Plato’s cave as a metaphor for expanding one’s perceptions. Dr. Church discusses how expanding perceptions can lead to recognizing opportunities and solutions, which is crucial in both personal and professional aspects of life. She emphasizes that perception shifting is a muscle that can be developed through intentional practice.


Upcoming Book: “A Course in Leadership: 21 Spiritual Lessons on Power, Love, and Influence”

  • Church’s upcoming book expands on her love-based leadership philosophy by integrating spiritual wisdom from various sources. The book’s structure combines teachings, practical activities, prayers, and meditations.
  • The book covers essential spiritual lessons, such as mindfulness, intuition, intention, awareness, power, listening, perception shifting, passion, gratitude, grace, and creativity.
  • Each chapter of the book offers practical insights for leaders to integrate spirituality and love-based practices into their leadership roles. The actionable activities guide applying these lessons in real-world scenarios.
  • Her books, “Love-Based Leadership” and “21 Spiritual Lessons on Power, Love, and Influence,” are available on major platforms, including Amazon.



Dr. Maria Church’s journey from conventional leadership paradigms to pioneering love-based leadership is a testament to the evolving landscape of leadership philosophy. Her work redefines leadership as a multidimensional approach, encouraging leaders to authentically embrace themselves and lead with love. This transformative journey emphasizes the importance of intention, commitment, and love in leadership, fostering positive impacts in personal relationships and the wider world. Lastly, if you want to learn more about Love-Based Leadership you can visit her website,, or connect through social media channels and get access to her amazing blogs and videos.