How do you feel when you think about LOVE in business? What does leadership have to do with love? I like to ask questions about love and business to as many people as I can. Students, senior citizens, business owners, employees, employers, anyone that will listen. It gets some interesting responses, for sure. For example, at dinner last night one of the guys said, in almost these exact words,
“That lovey-dovey stuff might be nice for a yoga studio but it will never work in a start-up environment where the tensions are so high.”
We disagreed for a few minutes until he finally accepted that it really doesn’t matter what the business DOES: early stage start-up, chain of sandwich shops, real estate broker, fitness center, any business with people in it, needs to be led with love. Our three basic needs of love, safety and belonging don’t go away just because we punch a time clock.
The love I am referring to isn’t rainbows and unicorns, syrupy sweet and irrelevant for business. As my Rasta friends would say, I am talking about love that’s “higher dan dat”! Like we see in Persian culture that believes everything is encompassed by love and all is for love, starting from loving friends and family, husbands and wives, and eventually reaching the divine love. Agapē love, as described in the New Testament, is also a great model , a love that is described as charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional, like a parent’s love
I believe that every business has a heart and that it is quite literally the soul of the business, the part that goes on after the business dies. It is from the heart that the love is allowed to express itself. When we lead from the heart it is more authentic and allows us to lead in a completely different way. Love is absolutely essential in business.
Next time you walk into the Post Office or DMV look around, can you feel the love in the air? Sadly, most are just waiting desperately, for the end of their shift. They spend 8 hours every day being made to feel incompetent, not allowed to be themselves and with no real connection to anyone around them. Then they take this energy home with them. It is tragic that these old pre-historic ways of managing people are still around. But the truth is that today it is much harder to find an atmosphere full of love than it is apathy or cynicism.
There is a tremendous power and, I believe, a responsibility that you are given when you open a business. You won’t find out about it from your accountant, or the building inspectors, or your attorney, or any of the other agencies that you will interact with, but it is real none the less. I believe that you have the power and responsibility to truly, deeply care about the people you hire. To treat them with dignity and respect and create a place that they love coming to everyday and providing them with so much love that they can’t help but take it home and share it. Your business can change the world, regardless of what you sell, just by creating a great place to work!
I read recently that “Leadership is not about love—it is love. It’s loving your mission, it’s loving your customers, it’s loving your people, and it’s loving yourself enough to get out of the way so other people can be magnificent.”