“I hope you have a good lawyer,” said the CEO as he leaned back in his chair. He was referring to my business tagline, “Develop Leaders to Develop Leaders Based on the Foundation of LOVE,” and to my newly released book at the time, Love Like Louie, for eight-year-olds and up. He meant no malice by that comment. He just didn’t know the story of Louie, my rescue pup, and how Louie influenced my writing about love.
Soon after adopting Louie, I discovered that he brought a lot of emotional baggage to the relationship. I was deeply concerned about his behavior and working with him was challenging. Louie was absolutely adorable, and I loved him when he was a good, sweet little dog. But I didn’t love him as much when he started to act out and behave badly. It was a struggle to care for him during those times. I had to choose to love him. Although it took time, I was committed to loving this abandoned pup in spite of his baggage.
Employees, friends, and other teammates can be like Louie.
They can bring a lot of baggage to the job or to school, and they may be hard to love at times. One of the most critical needs for any human being, however, is the need to feel loved. All of us have this innate desire, yet it is one of the most difficult to fulfill.
This brings me back to the CEO. One little word—LOVE—tripped him up, and he is not alone. In the business world, that one word causes confusion, and many are unsure of how it could possibly benefit an organization. One requirement of being a servant leader is love—yet most leaders don’t even know how to begin to love their teams. Instead, we use the word to refer to material gain, or worse, we immediately interpret it in the context of intimacy or passion, which takes us down a path of inappropriateness in the workplace. I believe it is time to take a look at how loving others improve culture and productivity in any organization.
An article appeared in Forbes about this subject. The authors explained that love at work can be demonstrated through gratitude, appreciation, friendship, and support.
They determined that love can be expressed in the workplace in three ways:
- Knowing and caring about the personal lives of your team members in an authentic and appropriate way.
- Bringing positive energy to your work to fulfill your organization’s mission and values.
- Being dedicated to the well-being of others and shared tasks.
They found those team members who feel “loved” by their boss are more likely to see the boss in a positive light and do better on the job.
I’d like to clarify a few points about my definition of love:
- Love is about who you choose to be. So, be a loving person by being patient, kind, trustworthy, and truthful. Let go of pride and grudges, and seek to be humble.
- We must intentionally choose to love others and practice love each day.
- Malice is rooted in our tendency to view other people as objects. People abuse others because they see them as objects. Kids bully other kids because they see them as objects.
- Love is the willingness to serve others for the greater good, regardless of our own wants.
When we as leaders choose to be patient with others, show kindness, demonstrate integrity, and remain faithful to our word, we build trust and help develop a healthy culture. All of these excellent characteristics are rooted in love. Let’s commit to being leaders who love, and let’s be intentional about seeing others as people rather than objects. The people in your life will be transformed at work, and at home because you choose to love them. And the world will change!