Thinking about how to start this new year in the blog, I’d want to bring something that many people consider far away from business. We don’t usually talk much about love in our professional lives. At least as far as collective thinking is concerned, love is something belonging to a more intimate circle. That’s why I want to devote this first post of the year to the impact of love in our leadership.
Love is a broad concept
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not carried away by those fuzzy feelings of love from the movies they try to feed us with at this time of the year, despite being just back to work from Christmas holidays.
What I’m talking about is the broad concept of love translated, in a business environment, into a true care about people. Because the reality is that there are life issues that interfere with work, and people need to be handled with care.
Care is what makes us realize that someone is having a bad day or feeling overwhelmed. It’s what makes us able to show compassion or concern. These behaviours are at the very core of true leadership.
Professionalism is not in conflict with love
In 2018 at a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Jack Ma the CEO of Alibaba, talked about that leaders need IQ, EQ – emotional quotient-, and LQ – the quotient of love. In his words, this is what a leader needs to be respected.
There is always a concern about getting the right balance between professionalism and caring. The truth is that showing genuine care for the people you lead will not diminish you as a leader, and instead it will bring good things.
Love casts out fears and, therefore, it creates something important: psychological safety, and you may know, we all require it to be good performers. Thus, developing intimacy, a true care about the personal lives of your people in an authentic an appropriate way, will make the difference.
You need to bear in mind that there is no business without people; and when people struggle, business struggles. In this sense, the impact of love is huge.
How to show love
First, we all need to accept that we are all flawed. No one is good at everything, and everyone makes mistakes. In intimate relationships, our flaws are visible and love just increases our tolerance for weakness and errors. And it is with generosity that we forgive. It’s the same at work.
Leading with love makes people feel safe when they feel vulnerable. And it’s known that people who work in a loving, caring culture perform better. But how to do it?
I’d say it pivots around four fundamental behaviours: be authentic, appreciate, communicate, and support.
Show your appreciation, not only for the work, but the person. Create a safe space for communication and practice the active listening; devote time to ask. Support them in bad times: train instead of criticizing; build confidence instead of control. Be flexible when possible. And, above all, mean it.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we listen many times that this issue will make us better. On the contrary, we’ve shown how it brought out the worst in many people. In my opinion, only developing a true care for others will make us better, especially as leaders.
That’s the impact of love.