Love is one of the most highly contemplated and argued concepts. Why do we find it so fascinating – and so frightening outside the confines of our personal relationships? I think in the Western world we have stopped seeing love as anything other than the romantic variety.If we reduce love to this category only, inevitably it has no place at work. I also think we believe work has to be different – professional, credible careers have to be based on hard, measurable data, heavy workloads and tangible outcomes. We are required to behave without personal interruptions and distractions. In our attempts to be seen as business-like, we have “over-professionalised” our behaviours to the detriment of the human factor. This may not be a problem if your only working relationships are with inanimate objects though. One might argue – as Aristotle did – that the first point of love is that we love ourselves. In a business context, this makes sense. If we don’t have compassion and consideration for ourselves, we will never achieve the best version of ourselves. We’ll remain tired, stressed and burnt-out. Leaders must create wellbeing in themselves as well as others. Aristotle argues the ability to love oneself is “noble and virtuous”. In other words, it allows us (as leaders) to reflect and act in ways which facilitate excellence, ensures consideration and equality and enables growth. Ethically, we need to consider the varieties of love which are appropriate – and of course beneficial in the workplace. Love forms the foundation of meaningful relationships and enables human beings to care what happens to themselves, the people and the world around them.
Love forms the basis of mutually respectful relationships and represents. If we can translate this into the workplace, we can also expect more trust and accountability.Without trusting relationships, collaborative working and individuals who behave responsibly and accountably, business is never the best it can be. We end up with teams who are disconnected. There will be a lack of loyalty to organisational values and a lack of confidence in growth potential. You can spot a team where love is missing, whether you’re courageous enough to call it that or not. Ethically, we have to care about love and love to care (and lead) if we are ever going to achieve the best from ourselves and our people at work. It is the act of love which makes business great. Tracy Kite is author of Love to Lead (£14.99, Panoma Press). She has many years of experience in the design, delivery and implementation and evaluation of learning and leadership development programmes. Her work is focussed on achieving strategic and operational leadership excellence and a defined return on investment for organisations.
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