What’s Love got to do with It ?
In the 1960s, my Dad was in the earlier years of his career in a major company. When he pointed out a moral dilemma to his boss, the older man laughed at him: “Mr. Rohde-Liebenau, you have to understand, morals and ethics don’t have any place in business.“
A lot has changed since then, and the financial crisis of 2008 put a sharp light on the havoc created by a disregard for ethics in business. Today, certainly not all behaviour in business is ethical – humans are imperfect. But the relevance of ethics is firmly enshrined in the way companies operate – through a set of well established tools including codes of conducts, compliance rules and procedures, and environmental and social standards. Ethics have moved from irrelevant, or at least impractical moral high ground, to being an established parameter of business success.
But Love ?
When I recently heard a colleague apologize for using the word “love” in the business context, I realised that today we have a new frontier to cross: we need to integrate love into the way we do business, and how we run organisations.
Now you might go “hey, seriously … what’s love got to do business ? With work? With getting things done ? Aren’t these supposed to be the domains of rationality and power ? Will I not be weak or at least seen as weak when I let love get into the way I operate in this space ?
These are all perfectly good questions.
But the truth is that the opposite of love is fear. And fear is what often guides decisions and actions in business and organisations: fear to lose out on the competition; fear to lose control; fear not to be seen as good enough, or as “too good”. The list of fears is long, and it has nothing to do with being defective. Fears are what have kept our human species safe throughout its history. But when fear is in the driver’s seat, thinking and decisions become muddled, and our actions lose focus and impact. We cannot and should not ignore our fears – if we do they simply continue to do their work “underground” – and continue to direct us. But we can stop making fear our basecamp. We can switch camp – choosing the opposite of fear – that is love, as our base and starting point.
What does this mean?
When you come from love, you come from a desire to create, or to grow something. You have your eyes on a purpose bigger than yourself. And beyond looking to win or to maximize your profits, you are driven by the question “what will be the impact and benefit of what we are doing?”, and “how does it affect the wellbeing of my employees, my customers and stakeholders, as well as my own wellbeing ?”
Coming from love, you are also able to truly connect with others, on a human level. It can feel scary, but it works. This connection is the basis of trust and collaboration – both vital for any organisation today.
Coming from love does not mean that you deny power nor that you will lose it. Sometimes you need the language and means of power more than those of love. But when you make love your base to come from, your heart is at peace, your head more clear, and your hand engages others. And most importantly, your action creates the impact that you will want to look back on at the end of your life.
If any of the above speaks to you, let’s have a conversation.