Love at Work
“You don’t love me,” comes from a heart that wants to be loved, but isn’t? “
I love you,” signals beginnings; “You don’t love me,” endings. Love’s ending begins with thoughts like:
- You put someone else ahead of me.
- You don’t think of me and my wants.
- You don’t have my best interests at heart.
- You aren’t thinking of how you make me feel.
- You give your best to others.
You learn a lot about love by how it dies.
Organizations, leaders, and love:
Everyone wants to love and be loved, especially organizations and leaders. Organizations feel love when employees call home to say, “I’ll be late.” Sadly, some leaders are like immature two year olds living in a “gimme gimme” world.
One way love:
Longing for love is healthy as long as those who are able – long to return it. One-way-love with someone who is able to return love is abuse. That goes double for leaders and organizations. News flash! Paychecks aren’t love. Love is expressed in what’s given beyond what’s earned. Earning love destroys it.
Learning how to love:
We teach others to love by loving them. Organizations and leaders teach employees to love by loving them first.
Love is the dance of compassionate generosity. I’m not talking bonuses, although that helps. I’m talking about putting them first. Letting them know their value. Sending them home to their families on time…
Two way love:
It’s leadership’s job to start the dance and watch for response. If you don’t model the way, you are in the way.
Admittedly, not everyone can respond. One thing is certain. The moment we know someone is in it only for themselves, the dance ends, manipulation begins, love dies.
Don’t you long to belong to a loving organization?
Subscribe to Leadership Freak today. It’s free, practical, and brief. The subscribe button is in the upper right of the home page. I’ll never sell your email address, promise.
Yes, I long to belong to a loving organization. In my job search, I am looking for a company that truly cares about its employees. Thank you for this post; this topic has been on my mind a lot recently.
Your comment took me one step further. When two people love the same thing, it creates a bond. In organizational life everyone has to share love for the mission and vision.
‘In organizational life, everyone has to share love for the mission and vision.’
You hit the nail on the head Dan. In previous comments to past posts, we’ve touched on values/vision more then once. Also shared how I’ve learned the hard way about values/mission/vision right out of high school. And beyond! 🙂
It seems this is yet another critical subject needing to be covered in education to prepare people to live in the world as adults. When kids really come to learn and understand what values are, and terms like purpose, mission, vision, etc. And how this works in both business and marriage. What to look for so they can more consciously choose organizations and partners that match their own values, etc The result? Much more harmony. And happier people.
Thanks for addressing love in the workplace! Love-based leadership is a necessary prerequisite IMHO.
Organizations do not love people. People love people. The only way an employee will feel loved by an organization is if that employee’s leader(s) loves him/her. The leader should put the employee’s needs first. Love is sacrificial. So is leadership.
Thanks for your comment. I hear you on organizations can’t love unless, of course, organizations consist of the people in them.
Love your connection between sacrifice and leadership.
Love is a dance. Wether it is in an business organization, home, or church, the dance starts with the “leader.” Many leaders are not good at this and must be taught how to do it and how important it is.
Some cannot learn it, sadly. These become tense and toxic places to try to work every day.
When people feel loved and respected, they will give their best efforts to you and for you.
Thanks for stopping in today. There’s real power in the idea that people give their best when they feel loved and respected. I guess it makes business sense to love people. 🙂
Have a great weekend,
My best 🙂
Leslie is right…only people can offer love, and it is people who long to feel loved. Leaders who love well attract (and keep) employees who love well. Coach Jerry Kill, of the University of Minnesota, has been a head coach at three different schools over the span of his career. His assistants have followed him to each place. When the coaches were young and without families, their mid-season meetings would last all night. Now that the coaches are mostly parents of small kids, Coach Kill has everyone come in to work at 4 am so that they can go home to be with their families when they are awake. That is loving leadership. MMF
Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it when you share your insights.
Your comment helps us see that love isn’t weak. It calls for our best. Love isn’t easy. It’s hard work. Love isn’t mediocre. It calls for our best.
Thanks for a great illustration,
I am sitting here thinking about this “Love” business as it relates to my professional life. I have always thought that there are things I am responsible for and there environments I put myself in. What one person thinks about a specific environment my or may not be the same as mine. I completely understand terms like value, respect, and honor as applied to the workplace. However I don’t believe I am responsible for the career of another person or whether or not they might “Love” their job. It seems to me that those are personal values individuals get to decide for themselves. My responsibility is to provide a role with Purpose, that allows a person to utilize and enhance their Skills, provide enough autonomy for them to be successful, and Recognize their accomplishments public ally and privately. All in a Safe, Trusting, and Collaborative environment. I hope that would constitute “Love” in this context.
For some reason your comment needed to be moderated. ???
You bring up an important side of this conversation and reflect the challenge of using the term love in the context of work. Thank you.
Great point, we aren’t responsible for someone loving their job. We are, in my opinion, responsible to give them the best opportunity to find the love. (sorry for all this confusing language)
I’m thankful you stopped in today to share your insights.
Have a great weekend,
Manipulation is enemy of love. When people are shaky, they play tricks to manipulate more competent people. Why people manipulate is because of fear. Fear of being exposed, superseded, or even thrown out of the system. More than that, they manipulate because it is accepted expected in the system. When employee calls and says “I will be late”, it signals two things. Either he is willing to stay or forced to stay. First condition is sign of happy environment but second condition is cultural or management norms. When employees fall into second category, it is dangerous situation that hampers personal development and organizational growth.
I do long to belong to loving organization. In fact, everyone has this need. But when you do not get loving organization, should you leave that organization? I think one can create happiness within organization though the whole system cannot be changed. One way to create and enjoy happiness is to understand our role, responsibilities and doing it honestly. The other way is to engaging in activities that provide satisfaction and meaning to life. Where you can feel better than others when your achievement is counted.
Thank you for stopping in today.
I love your second paragraph because it moves me from simply longing for something to taking steps to create it. The shift from longing to doing, may be a kick in the pants, but its powerful.
You have my best,
Hi Dan. You’ve found a blind spot with me (one of my many). I couldn’t think how to articulate a response to the question of Love in the workplace.
I think Leslie has a fair point – but I also fear it limits the horizons leaders ought place on themselves, now that you have forced me to think about it!
Should our goal be to simply love people – surely we don’t need to be a leader to do that , and it should go without saying for a leader (though I realise there are variations on that theme). If the bar is set at the organization you are responsible for loving its people, and them in turn loving the organization, is this not an ultimate goal (sustainability, profitability, etc. all taken as ‘given’)?
It’s a very interesting question to ponder, probably for the rest of the year.
I’m with you. Although I wrote this post with my typical certainty, I have lots of questions.
One of the things I hate about this conversation is we use the same term, love, for how we feel about our friends, children, spouse, work, or apple pie. I say, “I love your comment” to people and then a minute later, turn to my wife and say “I love you.” I hate that. 🙂
There is one part of this topic I don’t question… A life without love is empty and meaningless. Love gives meaning and worth to all we do.
I’m glad to toss this topic around with you and others.
Your candor makes me know I can trust you.
Hi Dan, great conversation today. Workplace relationships can be user (all take), servant (all give) or symbiotic (give and take balances). When you add love to the mix, you get a new dynamic: Two-way giving based on what’s best for the other, a desirable goal indeed. As has already been noted, that can only happen between individuals. The good news is, if you already have healthy relationships it’s as easy as making a choice. If you don’t, well . . .
It raises the related question of boundaries, but that’s a topic for another day.
The heart and soul of an organization (or it’s lack) is established by the heart and soul of it’s leadership.
When discussing love in the workplace, what comes to mind for me is basically the difference between fear/shame-based leadership and love-based leadership.
The former mindset seems to stem more from the protective ego and makes decisions based on fear, protect supply, overly concerned about fame, characterized by greed, more takers then givers, does not make decisions with the highest good of others in mind. It is more about serving the self. It’s me vs we oriented.
Love-based leadership is quite the opposite. Love is the foundation and this is what is modeled and filters through decisions, words, actions, etc. Has more of a we vs me orientation. Compassionate. Generous. Seeks the highest good of others. The organization itself will be focused on the highest good of others in terms of the nature of their own products/services, mission/vision/values.
Perhaps a good discussion to have is what characterizes fear/shame-based leadership vs love-based leadership.
Great food for thought today Dan.
A couple of comments:
First, I think that leaders who act like children are not really leaders, but perhaps anointed leaders or dictators.
Second, although only people Love and not organizations, it is those people within the organizations who create the culture of Love or even Respect that makes it feel like a good place to be and to attract people who will be on board with that viewpoint.
I like your description of Love being Compassionate Generosity and Leslie’s comment that love is sacrificial. Of course, if only one person is sacrificing and being generous, it isn’t love, it is manipulation or earned Love. Perhaps that is what is wrong with this country right now. People don’t get those concepts.
Hi Dan. Great post today. I guess we need to define what love in the work place means as you correctly alluded to the confusion with love in other aspects of our lives. The one common truth about love is that in all circumstances it is always about the other person and not ourselves. Everything we do revolves around the well being, the interests, the needs, and the unrequested wants of those we love and care about. Using that premise it is easier to understand the different “spaces” of love when it comes to our careers and work and our personal and individual areas of affection.
I believe at least for me that Servant Leadership exemplifies the best vehicle for love to permeate at work. Always looking for ways to uplift, support, enhance, help, listen, and encourage the team fosters love and a caring atmosphere. Usually when I think about love in the workplace many people come to mind whereas personal love involves a much smaller and defined group. The truth is that an organization founded on a culture of caring and love becomes rapidly contagious and drowns out dissension, negativity, and “vexations to the spirit” as it says in the desiderata. One last caveat about love, Fake, disingenuous, and insincere love is easily recognized and will create mistrust and disenfranchise any team. Give love when you feel it, believe it, and live it.
Have a nice weekend Dan. 🙂
Thought-provoking post today. I’m not sure I long to be loved by an organisation or a leader – for me the word love means a self-less caring; only wanting the best for an individual – and implies a level of deep intimacy and also responsibility.
I long to be trusted, valued, appreciated, respected, receive real recognition (not just someone saying: “good work”), and treated fairly – perhaps one can argue these are all a natural consequence of love… but love is not the right word for me in this context.
This piece really resonates with me. Six months ago, I left a position where I did not feel trusted, valued, or respected – or “not loved” in the context of this article. It was an issue with the very top of our organization – the person didn’t exhibit much trust or respect for anyone, employees or customers alike and created a pretty toxic environment.
After six months at my new organization, there is no doubt that I am now working for someone who does demonstrate love for his staff. We are trusted and respected in every way – and compensated well, too. Because of that, we are a very high-performing organization and I am so happy that I made the change.
Wow – your short to the point post always hit home. I don’t want to get lengthy, this is a sore subject for me which I have never categorize as love. Thanks for always putting my thoughts into words, its so well expressed. From your July 2011 post on being stuck, you have helped me make moves I have been too afraid to do so in the past. Thank you for sharing your insightful and provoking posts.
You’ve touched an issue close to my heart.
I believe, ideally, real love should permeate every encounter we have.
This is effortful and very hard to achieve,
One definition of love that I take to heart is to support, encourage and challenge.
This is regardless of the nature of the relationship.
However there is a real fear ( and I think misunderstanding) of the word “love” as it has been so hijacked in contemporary culture.
Thanks again – regular reader but first time commenting.
Gotta love this post:-)