Friday, February 12, 2016

Can we talk about love here?

“Lovemarks" as initiated by Kevin Roberts, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi advocates that successful brands not only deliver great performance and generate high respect, but they create an intimate, emotional connection. These brands are not about mere transactions, but are about relationships and we embrace them passionately.

Marketers definitely understand the potency of the four- letter-L word to move product. Sunday‘s celebrated St. Valentine's day is a case in point.

Why though, are we ok with marketers talking of love, but rarely, if ever, use the term in board or team meetings, even if the conversations are about how to interact more effectively with each other and better serve clients?  Why with all the initiatives around engagement in the work place, or around organisational cultural change, love isn’t mentioned?

As in our romantic lives, maybe there is no need to say the word. It can be implicit;  in the vision, teamwork and why one turns up and does the work one does. However as also in the case of our romantic lives, there is potency in making it explicit. Naming it for what it is.

With its formalities, structures and unwritten rules, there are obvious challenges in talking about love in organisations. And with all its connotations,  one can just imagine the corridor conversations...

But in business and organisations 'love' means “a genuine compassion for humankind, with all that this implies”.  As human beings, we look to give and receive love in our interactions and actions. And this includes at work. The loving qualities of attention, acceptance and appreciation are at the core of our earliest childhood memories and at the heart of universal compassion.  

And we know it intuitively - and research confirms it. Barsade and O’Neill’s HBR article ‘employees who feel love perform better’ outlines their cross industry study which found that people who worked in a culture where they felt free to express affection, tenderness, caring, and compassion for one another­ were more satisfied with their jobs, committed to the organisation, and accountable for their performance. 

With the global values shift towards sustainability, developing workplace spirituality (of which I include love) is now considered to be a mainstream and pressing leadership topic.   This reflects the trend that we are drawn to organisations, as employees, clients and customers, which make decisions and conduct themselves in a way that cares for people and the world we live in.  We have examples from history, and there are new businesses emerging which are founded on such principles. There are also the likes of co-operatives, employee ownership organisations, mutuals, credit unions and sharing economy businesses, which offer different models of collective care.   And the growing interest of mindfulness in organisations, is helping us talk about, and practise open hearted curiosity and loving kindness.

Poet Kahlil Gibran wrote, ‘Work is love made visible.’ More now than ever,  leaders need to pay attention to our human desire to express this,  the emotional climate of their organisations and the meaning, values and structures which support it.

It takes a bold company to take these first steps and ask:

  • What is love for us in our organisation?

  • How do we embody it in terms of who we are as an organisation and what we do?


Rewritten posting from 2012
Thanks to Gareth for creating the cartoon.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

How can we become more loving?

“May we care about becoming loving more than anything else in life” (David Richo)

San Valentino, a third century Roman, whose name we take to observe the forthcoming 14th of February,  might have agreed.

Certainly the motivational writer Susan Jeffers, whose mission was to help us face our fears and do it anyway, did. 

She urged us to focus on the higher purpose of our relationships: that being, to help us learn to become more loving.

Our best workshops - our relationship – or the lack of one – provide rich fertile ground to learn how to be that more powerful and loving person.

As she pointed out, we don’t have to be in a relationship or wait for our partner to want to work on it; we can work fruitfully and joyfully on our own.

In fact because, our mind controls so much of the quality of our relationships and our life, the only logical place is to start with ourselves: to start cleaning our own mind and explore our own thought patterns and beliefs.

A way forward? “Pick up the mirror instead of the magnifying glass”.

By doing this, we come face to face with our own self-imposed barriers and blind spots to replace them with our reclaimed qualities and positive habits.  

As many a wise person has alluded to and which was eloquently and convincingly captured by Gandhi, “we must become the change we want to see”.

We have to be that love we want, for ourselves.  If we want our partner, for example, to be more loving, understanding, interested, generous and intimate, we have to be more loving, understanding, interested, generous and intimate.  It may be that we are lacking those virtues or have suppressed them – that is why we seek them.  It is therefore up to us to develop and express those very aspects which we search for in our mate.  We focus on being that which we want mirrored back.

And of course, this is not confined to romantic relationships. All our relationships provide an opportunity for us to become more loving.  As leaders, if we want our followers to be intuitive, creative and collaborative....we have to cultivate those characteristics in ourselves. 

And of course, looking within and working on these new ways of being, takes....practise, practise and practise.

May you enjoy practising this Valentine’s Day...and every other day.



Revised version of a posting from  11 Feb 2013, which was a tribute to love and the late Susan Jeffers who passed away in 27th October 2012.   Jeffers, S (2005), The Feel The Fear Guide to Lasting Love, Vermilion. specific pieces from pages 44, 53,  72, 222)

Richo, D, (2002), How To Be An Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving, Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston, Massachusetts. P. 155

Image: via google images.'balloon man'