What’s Love Got to Do with It? (i.e. Love, Leadership and Profits)

Posted 05.20.2011

Tinaturner1 Today I'm at the annual alumni conference for the Georgetown Leadership Coaching Program.  The first session I attended was on Love and the Bottom Line led by two fabulous coaches, Sandy Mobley of The Learning Advantage and Lori Zukin of Booz Allen Hamilton

We began the hour by talking in small conversations about remembering a time when we felt very loved and appreciated at work and a time when we didn't.  It was easy for me to come up with an example of the first because every time I come back to a group of Georgetown coaching grads I feel so loved and appreciated as a faculty member that it's practically overwhelming. I had to go pretty far back for an unloved example and landed on the year when I was a first year associate at a now defunct firm on Wall Street.  Even though one of the firm's 10 stated values was have fun, we had absolutely none because we were treated like functions of production who, if you weren't still in the office at 10:00 pm, you were a slacker. When I finally got home in the evening to my new wife, I ate too much, drank too many beers and gained 20 pounds that year.

My conversation partner had a similar experience (without the excessive beer drinking) in her last year of a corporate job that went from great to awful. What really struck me about talking with her though was her story of the team she led before she was promoted and got a new boss who was function of production rather than love oriented. My partner told me that when she was first bringing her team together she was very intentional about leading with love and appreciation for her team. The results were so dramatic that she was promoted into the job where she had to report to the boss that took the opposite approach. 

As the session with Sandy and Lori went on, we talked about the small actions that can make a big difference in creating an environment in the workplace where people feel loved and appreciated.  They're things like really being fully present and attentive in conversations, creating a welcoming space for the people you work with and what Sandy calls GAP, asking people what they're grateful for, what they've accomplished and what they're proud of.

There is an increasing amount of research that demonstrates from a neuroscience perspective the strong correlation between love, appreciation and productivity. (See Barbara Fredrickson's book, Positivity, for an example.)  If you really stop and think about it, you likely know from experience the correlation between love and appreciation and your own productivity. 

What will you do today to show the love? What difference do you want it to make?