Know what L.O.V.E. Spells?
April 13th 2017
Love is such a misunderstood word. Throw it in the same sentence with work and you’ve got a big pile of misinterpretation.
We’re allowed — encouraged even — to talk about how much we love our firms, our clients, or our jobs, but talking about love at work in a broader context just doesn’t happen. Maybe it’s not considered professional. Maybe people interpret love at work as sex at work. Or maybe people feel that the whole notion of work and love is just impossible.
I say love at work is actually a very practical tactic for creating stronger firms. In fact, I say love is precisely what we need in firms if we want to be more productive and happy. Before you laugh me off the page, read on.
Let’s start by defining love at work. The Greeks call it filial (or “philial”) love. According to Wikipedia, filial means affectionate regard or friendship, usually between equals. It is a dispassionate (meaning no-sex-at-work) virtuous love. No less a thinker than Aristotle developed this concept. It works for our purposes here.
Now that we have filial love as a useful definition, the challenge is to describe what it looks like at work. The description falls easily into an acronym:
L: Loyalty. Hire exquisitely, teach thoroughly, mentor vigorously, and put your team before anyone or anything at work. Even your clients.
O: Openness. Share all the information you possibly can about goals, strategies, results, and your motivation for specific actions. Let people know what you are thinking.
V: Vulnerability. Be emotionally present and available to your team. Tell them how you feel. Ask them how they feel. Get comfortable with discomfort. In demonstrating vulnerability as a leader, you can begin to create a culture where there’s an understanding that emotions are always present and always a factor in behavior. Then, and only then, can you deal with those emotions.
E: Empathy. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes, particularly before you render judgment on them. Learn their motivations, what’s driving their behaviors. Empathy may or may not change your judgment, but it will allow you to be more informed.
So there it is. Love at work. Pretty fluffy, you say? Maybe. But consider the possible results of demonstrating loyalty, openness, vulnerability, and empathy:
- less conflict
- less turnover
- more productivity
- more collegiality
- more creativity
- more commitment
And those results aren’t fluffy at all.