Enjoy this excerpt from our new book, Healthy Leadership.
Love is the source of most everything that is good and healthy . . . at home and at work. It is the most talked about, written about, and sung about topic in the world. You certainly always love your children even though you might not always like their actions or attitudes. The same is true for healthy leaders. They love their people even though they might not always like or agree with their actions or attitudes. So, love is the first of the three principles of healthy leadership. Indeed, it has been embedded in more businesses than you might initially think.
Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey dedicates a whole chapter to love in his book, Conscious Capitalism. Southwest Airlines, whose NYSE ticker code is LUV, makes frequent and explicit reference to its corporate culture of love. Author Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines, even co-authored a book titled Lead with LUV. They are not the only business thought leaders to articulate the importance of love in high-performing organizations. In The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, a widely read and applied leadership book, the authors conclude that love is the “best kept secret” of exemplary leaders. More recently, Marcus Buckingham, known for his data-driven writing, wrote Love + Work where he takes a more human stance. He argues how work today is intensely personal and that we need to feel fully seen and heard. In other words, today’s worker wants to feel loved at work.
Additionally, PepsiCo, Southwest Airlines, The Container Store, and Zappos all list “love” or “caring” among their corporate values. Scientific research has even yielded clear evidence of the practical benefits of bringing love into business. Management professors Sigal Barsade and Olivia O’Neill have shown that workplace cultures of love are correlated with increased levels of teamwork, job satisfaction, and improved customer outcomes.
Love is an indispensable principle of healthy leadership, but for it to have an impact on your team, it must be more than just a noun—it must also be a verb. This means that healthy leaders act on love more than they talk about it. As Colleen Barrett puts it, “What’s important is the fact that you’re honoring people and acknowledging that what they do makes a positive difference. In the process, you are making heroes out of them. You are letting them know that you love them for their efforts, and you want everybody to celebrate their success.”
Healthy relationships are the foundation of healthy leadership, and healthy relationships are grounded in love. This begs the question of what, exactly, we mean by love in today’s world of work. To provide an answer, let’s look at how you can bring the principle of love to life within your team.