Leader.co.za - Management, Training and Career Advice for Business Leaders







31 MAY 2021
What’s love got to do with it?

by Alan Hosking: Publisher of HR Future, South Africa's human strategy magazine, and a Leadership Renewal Coach for senior executives.


While the word “care” has been a long accepted term in the workplace, as in “care for your staff” or “customer care”, few would expect business leaders and managers to go so far as to use the word “love” when referring to their people or their customers.

Mention the word “love” in conversation with your average executive and you may well get strange looks and find people putting a lot of distance between you and them. Believe it or not, the same executives who routinely use the word ”passion”, speaking about people “following their passion” in their careers, will choke at the thought of using the word “love” in a business context. As far as they are concerned, love is for the bedroom, not the boardroom.

That’s possibly because they have a very narrow view of the word “love”, seeing it as romantic love only.

But what about the kind of unconditional love that results in a genuine interest in others and a desire to see them grow, succeed and find fulfilment, regardless of what’s in it for you?

Maybe we’re missing an opportunity to revolutionise the way business is conducted by failing to see the potential and the power of love in the workplace.

Love is probably the most powerful life force we know. It prompts people to go to great lengths in its name. So powerful is love that people will even go as far as to sacrifice their own lives because of love. A lack of love is just as profound, causing people deprived of love to spend all their lives in search of it no matter what the cost.

As life partners, you and I will make dramatic and permanent changes to our lives because of the people we love. We will dedicate time to them, will gladly inconvenience ourselves for them and deny ourselves things in their interests, asking for no payment or reward. As parents, we put up with just about anything from our children – interrupted sleep being one of the many things. Yet it takes very little for a child to give us great delight. The simplest pleasures, such as their laughter, are enough reward.

If love is such a powerful motivating force in people’s lives, why have business people failed to see the potential of this force and tap into it to create a compelling workplace that is inclusive, empowering and increases productivity and profitability?

Love is a powerful leadership tool. When you show a consistent, genuine love for the people you lead, you gain significant influence in their lives. That’s because the level of influence you have in anyone’s life is determined by the quality of the relationship you have with them. A relationship which is based on love therefore has the greatest potential for influence in someone’s life. Isn’t that what leaders should be seeking – influence in people’s lives?

When you show a genuine and unconditional love for people, they find it hard to resist. With time, they come to trust you and believe that you have their best interests at heart. You would be surprised at how much easier it is to manage people and their performance when they believe you have a love for them – and they love you back.

A love for people enables you to accept them unconditionally for who they are, yet distinguish between the person and their performance. This is where many managers get it wrong. They fail to distinguish between the person and their performance and allow the performance to influence the way they treat the person. That’s the stuff that keeps CCMA commissioners busy.

Imagine a workplace where people show love for one another and for their customers. How many labour disputes and wage negotiations could have gone in very different directions if people sat down with the knowledge that everyone is loved and that everyone – management and workers – will be heard?

What would change or be achieved in your workplace if love became an official policy in your company?

While Tina Turner asked what love’s got to do with it, maybe The Beatles weren’t so far off when they pointed out that “love is all you need”!
Useful resources:

HR Future
HR Future is South Africa's only independent, most forward thinking human resource magazine with the richest content wealth of HR related issues on the continent of Africa to help executives recruit, manage, train, reward and retain the best talent. Visit our InfoCentre or website.

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