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The Case for Love as a Hard-Core Business Principle

Psychologists tell us that all emotions, decisions, and actions are rooted in one of the two basic human motives: love or fear. Love gives rise to things like generosity, respect, joy, patience, honor, understanding, honesty, growth, and abundance; fear creates greed, selfishness, deception, bitterness, and stagnation.

Work Environment

Choosing love, then, is not something that should be restricted to personal or romantic matters. Love is practical in all areas of life, and it’s the key to true long-term success.

Especially in business.

Most of us business people get a little squirmy with the “L” Word; we’re not accustomed to using it in the same sentence as “work.” It feels inappropriate, somehow.

That’s tragic, really, because love is at the very foundation of great leadership and it is, in fact, a hard-core business principle.

Before you dismiss this as a load of “California touch feely hoo-ha crap,” let’s break it down:

What is Love in the Context of Business?

First and foremost, we want our customers to love our product, service and business. That’s where the competitive advantage comes from. Mere satisfaction doesn’t cut it any more. In order to create and sustain an experience that our customers will love, we need to create an environment that our people love working in. And that culture simply won’t happen unless you, the leader, love the business, first.

Watch this video for an example:
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Love in business starts by your genuinely caring for the needs of the people you work with and the customers you serve, and showing it in the ways you interact with and serve them. It creates the drive to go above and beyond the norm.

No one is exempt from this. Whether your work entails serving coffee to early-morning patrons, teaching a classroom full of 3rd graders, voting to pass a bill, or leading a tech company as CEO, finding concrete ways to demonstrate and cultivate love will give you a significant advantage.

Benefits of Love-Based Business Practices

Acting from love in your business brings about a wealth of benefits. When employees feel love, they are more loyal, innovative, creative, and inspired, and when you genuinely care about your customers, they know it, and they reciprocate by putting more money in your pocket and talking about you to their friends. Healthy employee and customer retention, combined with the growth and abundance associated with love-based decisions, makes for an overall healthy and successful business. Give love to get sustainable results — it’s a big-picture strategy.

To Cultivate Love requires self-reflection and awareness, which will enhance and deepen all of your relationships—at work and beyond.

How to Cultivate Love in Your Business

Ideally, leading with love starts at the top of the organization and is consciously and intentionally woven into the company culture, systems, policies and procedures. We can design love into the way we hire, train, motivate, reward, compensate, discipline, deliver and respond.

But it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes the boss just doesn’t get it. Or want to.

So let’s start with you. Regardless of your position, title, or altitude of your box on the org chart, you can have a significant impact on your colleagues and customers.

This isn’t about putting on a happy face or pretending everything is great even when it’s not. It’s not about demanding a halt to the office action and having a big group hug in the hallway. It is about cultivating an environment where you’re mutually committed to one another’s hopes, needs, dreams and aspirations—and those of your clients, especially.

Here’s a good place to start:

Give yourself a Love Assessment (excerpted from the Leap Assessment, found in the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Radical Leap). Be honest — rate yourself from 1 (strongly disagree)-5 (strongly agree) on each statement below and list ways you could improve. Asking employees, colleagues, and customers for feedback can help you find ways to improve, too.

• I consistently demonstrate I am doing the work I love.
• I am passionate about the work and the people I lead.
• I am highly motivated by the work and the people who support this work.
• Through my actions and words, I inspire others to love the organization, the team, and the work.
• I help people see how they can do something significant and meaningful.
• I spend time to help others develop as leaders.
• I show a genuine caring and interest in employees and customers.
• I form teams of individuals who share the love for the work, the team, the organization and the organization’s customers.

Can you think of one specific, measurable way you can cultivate love at work today or tomorrow? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Hey Steve, it’s clearly my day to catch up on comments I’ve been meaning to make here! I love the story you share in the video, it makes me think of the best store team I’ve ever managed. It wasn’t until I first heard you relay this story that I understood why it was that so many of our customers insisted on paying their bills in-person. They truly loved our people because our people truly loved them.

    If you have the good fortune to interact with customers daily, make the most of it. Do all you can to get to know a bit about them as people. Not only will you be more connected, you’ll be better fit to serve them. Whether your duties involve processing transactions, selling cars, fixing electronics, or mowing someone’s lawn, these opportunities are too important to miss. The human connection is what keeps folks coming back.

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