‘…love is all you need’ as the Beatles so powerfully put it.
Generally not visible on the list of leadership qualities love will, however, become an increasingly important one. Important because of the role business and organisations generally play in the formation of human culture. A role played out in large part through relationships with employees, customers and all stakeholders – direct and indirect.
Building organisations around the expression of love will require a deep review of the fundamental purpose of a for-profit business. Legally speaking, its purpose is described as ‘any activity or enterprise entered into for profit’. Sadly, the focus on profit has taken us into a dark place where money has become the sole (real) driver of leadership and management actions.
Of course, money has its place. It’s an effective means of enabling exchange between an entity and its customers and employees. But as we know it’s become so much more (or I should say less) than that, tending to swamp even the best of intentions around employee engagement and giving customer value.
Travelling back on a train service this week, a member of staff said to me (of the lack of food, hot water for tea and coffee and generally poor service provision) that it was a function of the current franchise owner no longer caring because they are losing the franchise imminently. That may or may not be true – the point is that it’s a mind-set and a general view held by many employees in businesses across the world. A belief that all activity within a business is ultimately in service of bringing money to the pockets of the owners – often at the expense of the employees and the customers.
So back to love and the new era of business. What would that be all about?
Well, we’d still pay attention to a healthy flow of money – the key word here being flow. We’d be ensuring that common good, equality, fair exchange and circulation all sat in the centre of our philosophy about money. Business would be a place of real community where people are really seen and valued – all people in all groupings. We’d take time to listen, to really hear and to build meaningful outcomes together.
At the risk of all this sounding like a huge ‘love-in’ – well yes it would be. But a love-in that is linked to a deep and meaningful purpose, balancing doing and being. Yes, it would call for a revaluation of what’s important and the degree to which all of us – as employees, as leaders, as business owners and shareholders and indeed as clients/consumers, are driven by more self-focused, self-serving values and the degree to which we are truly willing to open our hearts and love – each other, our communities and our planet.
We often think about love as soft and maybe weak.
To love well takes great communication, a fantastic relationship built on equality and an adult to adult dynamic and a commitment to seeing the other with compassion.
We all need to shoulder our responsibility to show up in the right way and engage as adults. None of this is soft or weak. It’s hard to do and even harder to get right but the payback is a culture and way of living that means the time we spend together working becomes a meaningful expression of our whole life – not something to be endured.