Have you ever wondered why we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at work? Especially when business success depends more than ever on the power of people and their passion for what they do.
For some odd reason, we are uncomfortable with the word ‘love’ at work. Maybe it’s because we compartmentalize our lives, and would rather leave that squishy love stuff to our personal relationships and home life. But I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. At a time when business and society require us to be more authentic and connected, we find ourselves running away from intimacy and expressions of love. This is not good for people, and it’s definitely not good for business.
Love is arguably one of the most powerful human emotions, as well as a powerful leadership tool. Love motivates and inspires us. It helps us rise above our personal needs and build organizations with a higher purpose. When you lead with love, you create positive and nourishing relationships — and enterprises that endure.
Love is a true survival emotion. This makes perfect sense if you think of love as the glue for essential positive attachments. It’s natural: We are hardwired for love because it promotes mating, nurturing support of the young, and social bonding. It’s a powerful emotion that prompts us to live in groups and build teams so that we can help each other survive.
We know it’s possible to survive in the world of business without feeling love, but if you allow your innate feelings of attachment and deep concern for others — call it love if you dare — guide your behavior, then your leadership will be stronger and your organization healthier.
In terms of business, love is also a great untapped source of value — it drives high performance and produces positive energy. It promotes collaboration, cultivates joy and happiness, and unleashes discretionary effort. Frankly, it’s the smartest investment you can make as a leader.
There are four ways we express love at work:
- Love of purpose — People are hungry to be part of something bigger than themselves. A purpose gives their life meaning and inspires hope, passion, and a desire to give back to the world. And companies are increasingly being pressured by our millennial friends to frame an overarching higher purpose for their businesses. When we love our job or our purpose, research shows that we are healthier and more productive at work.
- Love of accomplishment — Nothing seems more satisfying than working hard and completing a project that you care deeply about. While explicit rewards like money, fame or power are great, there is something especially motivating about setting a goal for yourself, making the necessary sacrifices and compromises, meeting milestones, and experiencing that sense of personal accomplishment.
- Love of coworkers — As social animals, we are the only species in the world that exhibits complex positive emotions, like empathy, generosity, forgiveness, and love. But why do we run away from these emotions, especially the word ‘love’ in the office? I believe it comes down to fear. We are fundamentally scared of each other. Scared of intimacy. Scared of connection. And scared of being vulnerable with our colleagues and getting hurt. The best teams in the world are not hijacked by these issues. Indeed, they talk openly about the power of love in working together.
- Love of yourself — Love starts from inside you and emanates outward. If you don’t love yourself in a fundamental way, you will feel the darts of criticism more intensely — and will be more likely to throw darts at other people! Loving yourself means accepting yourself as essentially good, appreciating your imperfections and being free to show your full self to others. Loving yourself allows you to be confident and humble, and generous and grateful. Knowing yourself, being yourself, and loving yourself is the secret to being a great leader and a good human being.
So on February 14th this year, take a risk. Walk around the office and wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. Give some love away. I promise it will come back to you tenfold!