And that four-letter word is LOVE. Love is the value proposition most CEOs still don't get. ROL (Return on Love) will radically and rapidly increase your ROI (Return on Investment). When CEOs the world over take the word love out of their closet and use it as their primary driver for success, businesses will experience unprecedented creativity, unprecedented profitability, as well as unprecedented human happiness.
At our core, all human beings want the same thing: to be loved (def: cared for, nurtured, and protected). We also want to give love. On top of that we want to avoid the absence of love, to protect ourselves from being hurt.
When you stop and take a look, the desire for love is all around us. The world's greatest religious and spiritual leaders have preached about the power of love for centuries, we have written more songs about love than any other subject, and we've developed a thriving therapeutic industry to help people successfully navigate their need for love.
Yet in our quest to conquer the business world, we too often disassociate ourselves from love, one of the most important aspects of who we are. We live by the credo "the business of business is business." Guess that's why 75 percent of all Americans say they're unhappy with their jobs. Consequently, they take their upset home to (and out on) their spouse, life partners, children, family members, friends, neighbors, pets, vendors, and the cable TV repair person.
The modern day plague that impacts every one of us isn't a physical illness like typhoid or polio. It's an emotional disease -- unhappiness -- being fueled in large part by our mismanaged work environments.
However, the companies that have awakened to human capital as their organization's greatest asset are raking it in, for example, Whole Foods, Google, Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's, Organic Valley, Ben and Jerry's and Timberland. They have discovered how to capitalize on our human need for love by creating caring cultures that reap extraordinary innovation and profitability while simultaneously adding value to our society.
According to published data, by 2007, the "best places to work" companies were creating twice the wealth of the S &P 500 Index! If you don't believe me, read Jeffrey Hollender (co-founder of Seventh Generation) and Bill Breen's new book: The Responsibility Revolution -- How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win. If you are in business and authentically care about your world, this is a MUST READ. Fear based, top down cultures aren't going to cut it anymore. People want to connect. They want to be a part of a community. They want to feel loved.
Here's what is known about the value of love.
➢ Gives you self confidence
➢ Motivates you to overcome your challenges
➢ Helps you accomplish your goals
➢ Provides emotional and intellectual strength
➢ Energizes you to uncover, ideate and surface new ideas, approaches, solutions
➢ Enforces integrity - greater truth, transparency and moral choices
➢ Makes you feel more optimistic about living - ignites a sense of possibility
➢ Makes you more tolerant
➢ Makes you want to align with others - perform as a team/unit/family
➢ Makes you more inclined to help someone else
➢ Makes you more open to sharing your experiences
➢ Makes you more patient
➢ Makes you more willing to sacrifice for an important goal
➢ Engenders more loyalty
➢ Creates a positive energy that can be infectious/viral
➢ Injects endurance when a goal has to be accomplished over time
➢ Provides peace of mind - calmness in the face of adversity
➢ Is a great equalizer, connects you to something universal
➢ Provides a sense of meaning and purpose
➢ Engenders more laughter
➢ Generates more fun
Sounds to me like the necessary conditions for companies to succeed in a rapidly changing global economy. Aren't confident, motivated, strong, innovative, honest, positive, tolerant, problem solving, purposeful, happy, determined people who want to play together to win and to do it with integrity what you, as a leader, want?
If your answer is yes, then it's time to take the word LOVE out of your CEO closet, dust it off, and put it to work. Here's what love looks like (behaviors) in the workplace. If you are a leader who is not consistently behaving in this fashion, or have C-Suite executives who are not leading in this fashion, make me your next phone call.
Behaviors of Love Leadership:
➢ Asking questions
➢ Feed forward (different than feedback!)
➢ Sharing information
➢ Being transparent
➢ Prizing - finding what's right first, then suggesting what can be improved
➢ Reframing challenges as learning opportunities
➢ Supporting others
➢ Using humor in a positive way
➢ Engaging others opinions
➢ Communicating in a clear and caring way
➢ Taking accountability
➢ Encouraging top down innovation
➢ Investing in growing others
➢ Celebrating wins together
➢ Cheering on personal growth
➢ Setting clear boundaries
➢ Presenting challenges
➢ Encouraging self care
Countless studies show that babies who are insufficiently loved and nurtured are impaired in their social development. Presently, 70 percent of a person's life is spent at work; thinking about work, preparing for work and trying to get over the toxic effects of work. When insufficient caring is present in our work life, our mental, emotional and physical health is impaired too.
CEOs: to whom much is given, much is expected. It's time to end this terrible trend of placing financial capital ahead of human capital. Don't make money less important than people. Simply make your people as important as your profitability. That shift, in and of itself, will radically change our world.
When human beings feel loved, all aspects of their psyche are primed for peak performance. Unshackle the human spirit. End CEO-centric organizations. Broaden the distribution of strategic innovation. Move towards love leadership. Embrace the responsibility you have to positively impact the world.
Named one of the top executive coaches in the country by Marshall Goldsmith
Executive, leadership, career coach, Huffington Post blogger, best-selling author