According to the Mayo Clinic the person you report to at work is more important to your health than your family doctor. Many of us are highly invested in our businesses, careers and jobs because we care about what we do. It is therefore natural to feel stressed when things don’t go well at work or in our businesses. However, when this type of stress in ongoing and gets worse over time, the impact it has on our health and relationships can be devastating.
What’s worse is that for many of us work related stress is a silent killer. It sneaks up on us. We don’t realize what a rut we’re in until it’s too late and one of the main reasons for this is that the bad habits and behaviors that lead to life-changing events such as death, divorce and illness have become normalized.
The modern workplace has become a breeding ground for bad habits leading to poor health and wellbeing for leaders, executives and employees alike. Some of the main issues are high stress/high conflict environments, micromanaging executives, unreasonably long work hours, a tendency to work after hours and work-related stress seeping into personal relationships.
Environments in which there is a lack of transparency tend to be tightly controlled. This can result from a lack of trust in the environment. Unnecessarily controlling environments typically will create higher levels of stress for those who are a part of it.
These symptoms can be traced back to of a lack of love on an individual level. When there is a lack of self-love and self-care at the leadership level it translates to a harsh working culture wherein management and employees experience intolerably high levels of stress. The whole premise of LQ is that when you have a high love quotient, you’re starting from a place of self-care and self-love. Thus the problems described above typically won’t show up in organizations where people have high love quotients.
In the eye-opening book Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—and What We Can Do about It Stanford Professor, Jeffrey Pfeffer calls out Corporate America on the unprecedented number of deaths resulting from workplace related stress. Pfeffer is no lightweight. As a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business he has forty years of experience, has written fifteen books and has been called a rigorous thinker.
In the next section we discuss how developing one’s LQ addresses the detrimental impact of unhealthy workplace practices.
Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and stroke, many of which result from stress are on the rise and because employees are exposed to intolerable levels of stress, this results in more illness and a greater number of fatalities. Pfeffer refers to these deaths as excess deaths i.e. people who die at an unusually young age of stress-related illnesses.
When the leadership, management team and employees of an organization are encouraged to raise their love quotients it has a positive impact on the corporate culture within an organization and will help deter some of the harmful modern day workplace practices which have been shown to lead to illness or death.
A corporation is built from the values embodied by the founder and/or developed and maintained by the existing leadership. If these leaders start from a place of self-care and self-love a lot of these challenges won’t even come up as issues. A CEO who takes care of his health, makes time to exercise, has good habits and balances his personal and professional life will want the same for his or her employees.
Excess deaths are attributed to job insecurity, micromanaging bosses, impossible hours and unreasonable demands amongst others. A high LQ leader will prioritize the physical, mental and emotional health of his people and be more sensitive to issues that matter to them. He will have an inclination towards fairness regarding working hours, compensation and job security. He will also create an environment where employees are encouraged to treat one another with respect and dignity.
In this way LQ gets to the core of the issue and addresses it at the source.
In the real world, it is not always the founder or CEO who identifies the problem and changes the way things work. While change initiated at CEO/founder level is the most powerful and effective, it does not always have to flow from the top. The management team or the employees can also initiate change.
Let’s explore the steps that individuals can take at different levels in an organization to help create and ensure a healthier workplace.
A high LQ leader will ask “How am I treating myself along the way of growing a great business and creating profit?” This CEO or business owner will look at things in a much more balanced and holistic way. He/she will have taken care of their own needs and have a deep understanding of what drives them. They will have clarity in terms of their vision and mission and will have communicated these in a way that employees understand and can get behind. Employee engagement will therefore be higher.
When CEOs and founders are kinder to themselves, they will become more aware of how they are treating people in their organizations. If leaders treat themselves better, then there will be a greater sensitivity to the various behaviors and issues that create an unhealthy working environment. High LQ leaders will introduce policies to address those issues and behaviors.
Even one person can be enough to make a difference. A member of the executive team has the ability to recognize these opportunities inside of the company and affect change. The health and performance of these individuals is often just as important to the organization’s bottom line as that of the CEO. Executive team members can immediately begin the internal work of raising their individual LQ and this will impact the organization’s collective LQ.
In this interview, Chris Brown, President of Trident Design shared with us his experience with introducing LQ “As I was going through the weeks of practising these exercises in the framework, I started showing up more powerful, more engaging, lighting up the rest of the team in ways that weren’t present before.” This is a great example of an executive team member who adopted the ‘I love you’practice to raise his LQ triggering a culture shift within the organization he worked for.
If the work environment is toxic, some symptoms can include high employee turnover and inconsistent productivity. Demonstrating the impact of a higher LQ, and the ensuing change in the environment, may be enough to persuade the CEO/founder to address his/her own LQ needs which will lead to high level policy change.
Employees who have a high LQ typically won’t choose to work in an environment that is not in line with their values. They will either move to a different company or request change within the organization. This individual can create a greater awareness around self-care and self-love and they can also request the change they wish to see, such as flexibility around how they manage their jobs, working a reasonable number of hours, being offline after hours and sensitivity around family situations.
Each brave individual who raises their LQ will contribute to the culture change required to address the harmful habits plaguing the modern workplace.
Studies such as those conducted by Pfeffer and his colleagues show that poor working conditions lead to higher costs and lower productivity which not only impact a company’s bottom line but have a far-reaching socio-economic impact.
In his book Pfeffer references the work of his peers using existing research to highlight some shocking statistics. For example
There are also numerous studies that show that after a certain number of hours a person stops being as productive as they could be.
We agree with the initiatives proposed by Pfeffer such as; giving employees more flexibility in how they manage their jobs, fairness in terms of how compensation and benefits are structured and not requiring or having an unspoken expectation that employees work unreasonably long hours and that they be available after hours. These, together with employee wellness are great initiatives to implement. When these initiatives are implemented from a place of wanting to be more kind to ourselves and taking care of your team, they have a deeper impact than if just implemented for profit’s sake.
While a businesses main aim is to make a profit and we understand a CEO’s responsibility to ensure his businesses growth and success, we would like to point out that it does not have to be an either/or situation. There is room for both high LQ leadership and profitability, in-fact where LQ is higher, there is a greater opportunity for profitability to be stronger.
When the people in charge truly embrace being kind to themselves the shift from lose-lose or lose-win to win-win can be achieved. When we are treating ourselves kindly, taking care of our minds and bodies, and nourishing ourselves through healthy relationships while creating a successful and profitable company, work becomes a pleasure. It actually feels good to be doing what you are doing.
While the corporate culture within many working environments around the world has been shown to be a contributing factor to chronic stress, the early onset of illness and damage to personal relationships, there is hope for change. In this article we have highlighted the fact that change can begin with the efforts of a single individual and is amplified when it is adopted and applied through high LQ leadership.
Owners, CEO’s, executives and employees do not have to sacrifice themselves in order to make a profit. I firmly believe that as more companies adopt a kinder and more loving attitude towards themselves and others, and the workplace evolution we are encouraging gets measured, we’ll find that companies who embrace LQ will have greater profitability than companies who don’t.
LQ is the path to greater internal satisfaction and financial success for everyone in the organization.