“Lovemarks" as initiated by Kevin Roberts, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi advocates that successful brands not only deliver great performance and generate high respect, but they create an intimate, emotional connection. These brands are not about mere transactions, but are about relationships and we embrace them passionately.
Marketers definitely understand the potency of the four- letter-L word to move product. Sunday‘s celebrated St. Valentine's day is a case in point.
Why though, are we ok with marketers talking of love, but rarely, if ever, use the term in board or team meetings, even if the conversations are about how to interact more effectively with each other and better serve clients? Why with all the initiatives around engagement in the work place, or around organisational cultural change, love isn’t mentioned?
As in our romantic lives, maybe there is no need to say the word. It can be implicit; in the vision, teamwork and why one turns up and does the work one does. However as also in the case of our romantic lives, there is potency in making it explicit. Naming it for what it is.
With its formalities, structures and unwritten rules, there are obvious challenges in talking about love in organisations. And with all its connotations, one can just imagine the corridor conversations...
But in business and organisations 'love' means “a genuine compassion for humankind, with all that this implies”. As human beings, we look to give and receive love in our interactions and actions. And this includes at work. The loving qualities of attention, acceptance and appreciation are at the core of our earliest childhood memories and at the heart of universal compassion.
And we know it intuitively - and research confirms it. Barsade and O’Neill’s HBR article ‘employees who feel love perform better’ outlines their cross industry study which found that people who worked in a culture where they felt free to express affection, tenderness, caring, and compassion for one another were more satisfied with their jobs, committed to the organisation, and accountable for their performance.
With the global values shift towards sustainability, developing workplace spirituality (of which I include love) is now considered to be a mainstream and pressing leadership topic. This reflects the trend that we are drawn to organisations, as employees, clients and customers, which make decisions and conduct themselves in a way that cares for people and the world we live in. We have examples from history, and there are new businesses emerging which are founded on such principles. There are also the likes of co-operatives, employee ownership organisations, mutuals, credit unions and sharing economy businesses, which offer different models of collective care. And the growing interest of mindfulness in organisations, is helping us talk about, and practise open hearted curiosity and loving kindness.
Poet Kahlil Gibran wrote, ‘Work is love made visible.’ More now than ever, leaders need to pay attention to our human desire to express this, the emotional climate of their organisations and the meaning, values and structures which support it.
It takes a bold company to take these first steps and ask:
- What is love for us in our organisation?
- How do we embody it in terms of who we are as an organisation and what we do?
Rewritten posting from 2012
Rewritten posting from 2012
Thanks to Gareth for creating the cartoon.