In this blog I would like to convey my thoughts on Love & Leadership.
You might ask: “What has love got to do with business?” Well, I think a whole lot!
When I started working on my SIMPLE concept, a manager of an IT company (whom I consider a dear friend), was immediately enthusiastic. We discussed about the concept and the only thing he had some problems with, was the word LOVE. Because it doesn’t sound very business-like. He suggested I’d better use the word leverage. That I came up with the word love, he could understand, but that love & leadership have something to do with each other was just a mere notion.
As I have said in my previous blogs, SIMPLE is an acronym. Each letter of the word SIMPLE stands for an approach, point or principle.
These words are carefully chosen. Not just because the first letter of each word, together form the word SIMPLE. The word SIMPLE has been my most important starting point. The S, I, M and P are already posted. So now for the letter L. This blog is about the letter L for love and leadership.
Several people asked me: "What is the purpose of your effort to draft/write extensive blogs on SIMPLE?". Well, with this set of SIMPLE principles, I want to appeal to managers, leaders and (sometimes just self-appointed) coaches to remind them that there are very useful alternatives to traditional management methods, old school frameworks and traditional ‘thinking”.
When I make these remarks they sometimes feel like I make an indictment to them. I understand that, and in some way I think this is true. Well, kind of. I have had the pleasure to be appointed to be a group- and team leader of various groups and teams of sometimes more than 30 people. I made a lot of mistakes driven by the rational and linear thinking frameworks I was taught. I guess, by my lack of compassion and lack of experience. So it is also an indictment to my own ignorance, too.
Through my blogs I want to give all people who have (or had) to face traditional management some courage. I want to cheer them up! I want to investigate whether more people (especially managers, former managers, someone that has to manage without having “the title”) feels this awkwardness. I want to try different ways of ‘management’. The ways fit to people working in the current era and future time. I also want to make the ‘one-liners’ I often use, more practical so that they are not mere words.
Business as usual
If you analyze why love is not seen as “business-like” then you hit well-known phrases as "Business is business" and "business as usual". What is actually says is: “extreme competition”.
Apparently you're a whopper when:
- You’re trumping the competition
- You drop your partner when he is in your way,
- You’re able to reorganize a company (firing people) because of profit maximization goals.
You are a commercial rock when you show that you are only in for making money. You're “sharky the shark" in procurement, squeezing the supplier instead of forming a partnership. Even for strategic services / products as in an IT contract, negotiations go to the razor's edge. The latter one is one of the major failure factors for ICT projects. Architects seem arrogant and pedantic. Software developers and programmers seem coding cowboys.
Business, in this mind frame, is a working form of hate, the counterpart of cooperation, the opposite of love. On his scale hate beats love and competition beats cooperation & collaboration. It is a breeding ground for misery and poverty.
Love comes in many ways.
It demands a certain perspective on things to see that love shows itself in many ways. I think you will find many kinds of love in business. Respect is such a form of love. "Respect is love in work clothes", I regularly state.
Without love for the job you do, you can’t make anything beautiful or of good quality. Craftsmanship is love. If you're in love with the work you do, you do the right thing. If the company shows warmth for the people it consists of, then it does the right thing. That is leadership, and leadership = love. Love makes you "disciplined" which results in intrinsic motivation. These are some of the conditions for a self-organizing team to function. Some say this kind of love equals engagement or commitment.
Love & business
To indicate that CEOs of successful and profitable businesses are strongly aware of that love is of interest in business, I’ll quote two of them:
"…..My thought is that love is the highest expression of trust. So love in a business setting relates to the attainment of trust…..” Bud Mingledorff, CEO, Mingledorff’s, Atlanta, GA
“….By “love” I mean kindness, consideration, positive feelings, clear interest in the other’s well being, generosity of spirit, compassion and that critical ingredient, fairness….” Peter Stranger, Former Advertising Agency President/CEO
Both quotes are from the publication of Marie Kane. I regularly twitter quotes about love that come from leaders from all disciplines, and get lots of statements by leaders from Fortune 500 companies. Showing "love" is not seen as love of money, status and power. I invite you to look at these tweets again: http://twitter.com/ #! / Lady Beetle
A practical exercise:
To put more love into work we could ask ourselves:
- When was the last time I've done something nice and surprising for someone at work - just for the sake of it?
- When have I thanked or recognized someone for that special effort for the team, department or company?
- Who didn’t I thank who has done just something really funny (or especially useful) for me?
- Who makes 'the extra mile' regularly that I obviously take for granted?
- What can I do in my position to stimulate 'love' at my workplace?
And please, don’t give silly answers , especially on the last question! And do act on, on what you like your answer to be. Do not keep it inside your head, but pay attention to it, or it will not help. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to read someone's mind. Especially when you cannot communicate face to face.
Love & Leadership
If it wasn’t clear from the above, I state again: “Love & Leadership have a great deal in common”. Leadership is an important form of love. Leadership is all about love.
Leadership is about giving purpose. I mean this in a spiritual way because leaders have no power over others. Leaders are able to ensure that other people develop to their abilities. They have the responsibility to seize that opportunity. A leader enables people, helps them to create things together and to reach a common goal or mission.
A leader can ensure that we all understand what we’re in (in a company), why we are doing what we doing and how we fit in (the fifth discipline Peter Senge). You share a vision. If that understanding is there and you can relate to that, you can act autonomously. You don’t have to be coordinated and controlled. All those time consuming meetings become redundant. And if you opt out, you’re in fact not in the right place or not properly addressed. Someone once said that a vision is the same as a love affair with an idea.
In this case, love is also PASSION (as in the P of SIMPLE). As is having meaning in life and a sense to do well every day. Love is having a strong commitment to your colleagues, the goal of the company or the organization where you work. Love is found in a shared adventure, or in the cases that went wrong. Love is in sharing, growing and in having an insatiable curiosity for things and all kind of changes. That is love.
How can you go about this?
If you're a reader, I recommend you to read books like "Good to Great" (Jim Collins), "Spiegelogie" (Willem de Heer), "Nonviolent Communication" (MB Rosenberg) and "Leadership" (Tom Peters). In them you'll find tips on how to weave more love into business and leadership. I can give you a long reading list, depending on which domain you work in, or your taste.
You could also consider this SIMPLE concept as a traveling companion or partner. Or perhaps refer to it as a value system. Please do not use it as a control or coordination mechanism because then it degenerates into one of the many misused management tools. You know what I mean: the emotionless yardsticks, the monetized business cases, the impersonal personal development metrics.
We live in a time where the love of power has to be to cancelled out by the power of love. It is THE time for love and leadership.
If you want to know more or want to ask me any question about this, mail me, call me, DM me. You are very welcome.