I was watching the Grammy Awards recently and couldn’t help but notice how often the word “love” was spoken.  There was a time I might have thought this superfluous and excessive. But hearing Alicia Keys speaking passionately on the need for more love in this world, something sparked in me. In these times of global turmoil and disruption, perhaps in our own leadership we need to take a page from our favorite artists?

When I speak about “the love” in the context of leadership, it’s manifested in respect, kindness, openness and holding others up without any other reason than it being the best thing to do. It sounds so simple, and yet it’s not always common in workplaces. 

What if we as leaders brought love into our work and workplaces?

Sit back and take a minute to imagine a difficult situation or conflict that you have recently encountered.  Bring to mind what the issue was, who was involved and how you approached and resolved the situation.  What did you do? What thoughts and feelings accompanied your scenario?

Now imagine yourself confronted with the same challenge but right away, generate a feeling love and compassion for all involved including yourself. Imagine resolving the situation now.  What would you do?  What thoughts and feelings might accompany the scenario this time?  Take a moment to notice any differences that would likely occur.

Love can make a difference. There are so many ways in which love in the workplace can reveal itself, some examples are:

  • Truly valuing everyone with all their imperfections
  • Demonstrating compassion for others and upholding everyone in all positions
  • Being genuinely happy with the success of others, even if you were vying for the same outcome they achieved
  • Doing the work without getting the credit as the primary goal
  • Generously acknowledging good work

What would leadership feel like and be experienced as in a more “love-infused” setting?

In a workplace culture that incorporates the above practices, I envision that working alone or together becomes more fluid.  Together as a team we focus only on creatively and effectively meeting goals – not on power struggles or entitlement.  Ideas automatically are understood as being part of the collective, not “owned’ by one or few individuals.  Innovation emerges brightly and effortlessly rather than as light coming only through small cracks.

And to lead in such an environment, what qualities would be required in a leader? I imagine a leader who acts from a place of love sets a place where people matter – individually and together, their confidence in employees’ sense of self and belonging is solid. They demonstrate openness, acceptance and non-judgment on a daily basis.  Challenging situations are approached with a sense of curiosity and lightness – what is happening here?

It’s important to point out that this is not a call for a complete love revolution in the workplace.  It’s understood and well researched that a leadership style without fear is the most effective for building trusting relationships as well as fostering motivation and productivity within individuals. 

In these complex times, bringing a larger dose of love into leadership practices may be just exactly what is called for to foster positive employee relations and overall success and well-being. Thank you to Alicia Keys for sparking reflection and encouraging us all to take the time to notice the difference love can make.