If you don’t love what you do, you won’t do it with much conviction or passion.
Earlier this month was Valentine’s Day so you may be a bit wary reading a business blog with Love in the headline. Believe me this message is not focusing on the hearts and flowers aspect of Love. Rather, I’ll be examining how Love is critical to business profitability as well as optimal employee engagement, performance, and satisfaction.
Research has found that Love is a foundational strength to life achievement and happiness. It is the unspoken linchpin of a successful professional and personal life equation because at the root of the human experience is the need to belong.
So, if you have not thought about adding Love to your management toolkit, you are missing an indispensable ingredient to your success as an employee, manager or leader—not to mention in your personal life.
What is a “just right” Love focus?
The character strength of Love is valuing interpersonal relationships, the ability to be close to other people, caring about their wellbeing, honoring their needs, and celebrating their triumphs. It is the art of creating an environment where respecting the strengths of one and all is cultivated. Moreover, it is a choice to link the intelligence of your heart with your head.
What simple shifts can you make to prop up your Love in business?
Love Your Work: Gallup disclosed that as you spend time working in your area of strength, you are six times more engaged, have higher performance ratings, improve your levels of productivity, increase profitability, produce greater earnings per share for your business, are more successful, happier and healthier. In addition, this will have you just plain Loving going into work every day. The good news is that by learning your strengths you become 7.8% more productive. What is the first step you can take to recognize your strengths? Simply identify the times you have been most satisfied with your work, when you have felt as though you were being paid to do a project you Love. These are your strengths! Share what you find with your boss. And then use them!
Love Your Self as Leader: It is ironic that as a leader you first must accept and value your abilities—both your strengths and weaknesses. This Love acknowledged view of self causes you to realize that those around you are made of the same stuff. Every employee is endowed with worth and potential. Without this Love-view of self, it is hard to have a Love-view of others to guide them through the process of identifying, celebrating and unlocking their latent leadership potential. Leadership is not urging others forward without concern for their aspirations, wellbeing or personal needs. Rather, at its best, it engenders trust, provides support, encourages hidden potential to emerge and sets high standards. This energized; focused attitude brings about positive outcomes for both your employee’s professional and personal life as well as improves the company’s overall operation.
Love Your Fellow Employees: A recent Conference Board study reveals that one of the favorite aspects of going to work for 59.3% of the surveyed workers is their colleagues. Healthy relationships eliminate conflicts (saving time as well as the emotional drain), improve collaborative outcomes, generate innovative thought and increases productivity. It starts with healthy communication, respect for yourself as well as others and an acceptance of the value your co-workers bring to the job. The truth is that human beings are relational at the core of our nature, so human interaction is elemental to creating a productive, fulfilling work environment. When you nurture, care and support the development of your co-workers, they become more engaged and are positioned to achieve their full potential.
Love Your Customers: There is a magical Love cycle. It starts with the Love a company demonstrates toward their employees through how they treat them, the work environment they create and what they measure as important. In turn, employees Love their clients/customers with the same kind of respect, appreciation, and care they’ve received from their company. Emotions are contagious, and people sense when they are cared for and valued. As people experience compassion and love, they feel more comfortable and have energy to create results. As a result, your clients/customers respond in kind.
Listen to WholeFood Co-Founder/Co-CEO, John Mackey’s, interview on Super Soul Sunday, June 8, 2014 that describes the end-result of this Love cycle,
Business can be this incredible force for good. It already is largely, but because it is done unconsciously, it does not reach the highest potential because if you really genuinely care about your customers, people know that. They know when they’re being sold something, and they know when someone is authentically caring about them. When we know someone genuinely cares about us, we trust them, and if we trust them, we want to trade with them.
Love is not something that is given to get, as John Mackey’s interview reveals, rather it is what we are willing to give to our co-workers and our customers because we are committed to their wellbeing.
What does it look like when Love is not part of your business experience?
Let me share a small portion of the Gerald Levin, past Chairman/CEO of Time Warner, interview with Charlie Rose’s PBS, July 22. 2014. Sadly this says it all.
I had to construct this wall to keep everything that was inside of me private, and I had to be somewhat in an isolation booth—kind of a Superman. You know I’d walk into a board meeting, and I’d have to have the answer on strategy. I’d walk into a Wall Street presentation, and I’d have to answer any financial questions. If I’d walked into that boardroom and said, ‘You know what? I’m having a hard time. I don’t have all of the answers. Could someone please love me and give me some support?’ That would have been it. So, it’s a male-oriented, highly competitive survivalist kind of life and at the detriment of your soul, your family, your health and all the accouterments of power and success eventually become hollow. At least for me they did.
What can you do to bring Love into your work life, should you choose?
It is not that hard to open the cycle of Love with another:
- Sincerely celebrate the positive experiences in your employees or co-workers whether professionally or personally.*
- A smile extends your heart out to another and opens theirs to you.
- Be proactive at catching your employees or co-workers doing something good—and then tell them you noticed how great they are.
- Encourage your employees and co-workers when work may not be going as smoothly as one would want.
*This is Active Constructive Responding, which emerges from research performed by Shelly Gable, Assistant Professor at the University of California, on how people respond when they hear good news. She submits good results occur in relationship building when we are genuinely excited and happy for another person’s good events.
Do you know your strengths?
I hope this overview of Love at work has challenged your thinking, and you are interested in adding this trait to your leadership arsenal. Clearly, it is essential for both the health of your company and you. I’ve been privileged to introduce the Love-cycle to clients who have discovered a new level of work satisfaction and engagement. If you are eager to improve 2015, it will be my pleasure to assist you gain the essential insights and habits to bring more joy into your career and improved profitability to your organization.
This video extends the dialog. It is long and well worth the time.
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