'I Love You'

When was the last time you heard that? Did you say it? Or were you on the receiving end of an “I love you”. How does it make you feel when someone says or shows you that they love you? And how does it feel to tell someone that you care?

My daughter tells me she loves me at least 10 times a day; when I give her food, when I brush her hair, when we read together, when we watch films together, and sometimes for no reason other than she looks at me and feels it, so she says it. It’s a beautiful moment, and no matter how many times she says it (in one day) I am grateful for every-single-one.

But hey, she’s 7 years old, she loves her Mummy and feels comfortable expressing her feelings of love towards me, and feels happy when I say it back.

We know that the desire to love and care for others is hard-wired and deep-seated because the fulfilment of this desire enhances our happiness levels. In other words, expressing love or compassion for others benefits not just the recipient of affection, but also its perpetrator.

So, what does this all have to do with leadership and the workplace?

In a recent article, Marcel Schwantes wrote, 'Before judging it out of context, yes, love (in the romantic "Eros" sense) makes people nervous inside corporate walls where employee handbooks outline code of ethics to safeguard against things like sexual harassment. But the love I'm speaking of is the Agape type -- an "action verb" bridging the gap between business-as-usual and positive emotions. What science has found is that positive emotions are at the root of human motivation. We are wired for it'.

It’s time to get over our reluctance to embrace love as a business strategy. We need to change the faulty perception that feelings in the workplace aren’t professional, or too fluffy, and can’t be measured. Employee feelings can be measured, and in particular, measuring the effectiveness of leaders in creating the conditions that will bring out the best in others is wholly recommended.

When it comes to management, leadership, recruitment, giving feedback etc so much of what is important comes from the heart. However, at work it seems, the heart is rarely focused. Most of our working days are spent focused on profit and what employees can do for the company. Leadership choices are made depending on what is logically the best for the business and not always what is best for the employee.

Barbara Fredrickson, the author of Love. 2.0, said: 'When people are made to feel cared for, nurtured, and growing, that will serve the organization well. Because those feelings drive commitment and loyalty just like it would in any relationship. If you feel uniquely seen, understood, valued and appreciated, then that will hook you into being committed to that team, leader, and organization. This is how positive emotions work.' 

Given the importance of the need to be loved, it isn’t surprising that most of us believe that a significant determinant of our happiness is whether we feel loved and cared for.

Here are some ways that you can show your employees that you ‘love them’…

Listen, and we mean REALLY listen.

Take some time out to focus, not be distracted and really listen to what the other person is saying so that when they are speaking, they feel like the only person in the room. Use your listening skills to create a connection and build long term, lasting relationships.

Reward and Recognise:

Giving positive feedback, compliments and showing appreciation to deserving employees for their hard work will motivate them and create positive behaviour. Positive energy is contagious and by showing your team that you care, you will be nurturing their emotional wellbeing and being an inspirational role model for employee engagement.

Build Trust:

Trust in your employees and make them your partners. Create an environment where people can and want to learn from their mistakes. Providing feedback is not enough, employees should also be provided with opportunities to raise their concerns and to make suggestions. Allow them to give their opinions and be part of the decision-making process. Allowing individuals the opportunity to feed their views and opinions is the single most important driver of engagement and building trust.

Love really does make the world go round, without it we would be pretty miserable, right? Considering how much time we spend at work and with work colleagues, maybe its time to spread a little love so everyone can reap the benefits. As The Beatles famously sang 
… “all you need is love”…

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