happy mother and children hugging at home

Working for Love… Not People, Not Promotion… Just Love

Is there room for love in the workplace? I’ve been watching shows like Succession and The Industry, and the answer to that question seems to be no. I’ve met people who probably have the same opinion. Leave love at home. This is a place of business. For the most part, we are taught that the office is a cold place, and I’m not talking about the air conditioning. The only thing we should care about is getting paid, getting promoted, and maybe have a pizza party once a quarter.

I wonder if I have to make the business case for love? I guess people only care about performance when it comes to work, so it’s easy to say that people do perform better when they feel loved. I don’t even have to give you a study (I hope) because you already know that in your other relationships. Relationships at work or no different. If you do need a study, check out this one done by the Harvard Business Review entitled, “Employees Who Feel Love Perform Better.”

What is Love?

I think one we have to do is define love because we talk about love as this grand gesture, but no one can accurately define it. We’re not talking about love in a romantic sense. There isn’t a need to have passion for your work. Passion is actually overrated. What we are talking about is compassion. Compassion for yourself and others. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’d know that compassion is the act of kindness without expecting anything in return.

The reason why we don’t show love in the workplace is because historically the workplace has been a place of masculinity. You can’t show weakness at work. It’s kind of like going into a dojo every week day. Showing love means being vulnerable. I would love to see if there is a company out there who has vulnerability as a core value. It probably doesn’t. It probably starts off with something like treat or customers well… lovely. Wouldn’t it be great to know the benefits of love in the workplace. I know the detriments of a lack of love and they all start with over, overworking, overeating, over drinking, over compensating… I can go on. We see these as things that are bad for our health, yet it has become ver hard to escape because it’s a part of the culture.

The Manager that Doesn’t Care

You’ve probably worked with this person. The person who has a high pedigree. They have been at the organization for a very long time, very respected, and have a wealth of knowledge. People like to be around this person, but it’s very difficult to work with or for this person. Why? Their driven nature mixed in with goal setting makes them ambitious regardless of the nature of their subordinates. They would rather make the numbers than care for the people that work under them. They see themselves as commander and chief of their department, but do nothing but bring stress and feelings of being overwhelmed (another over).

I’ve once worked with a person who needed to make sales goals at all cost. “We don’t miss our numbers” was basically the tagline of the company. Although, you probably won’t find that on their website. This is an environment prone to stress that later results in health problems. I’ve been in situations where if a manager just understood where I was coming from, there would have been a better space for me to perform. Instead, being put down, or having negative feedback thrown back at me only gave me less motivation. Life is more than just work. We have to realize that we don’t know what’s going on in the lives of others. Work is such a small part of it. Instead of compounding the strain of life for 8 hours a day, why can’t work be a refuge? A refuge in which people can use their work as worship in the name of love and fulfillment that seeps out into the rest of life. Isn’t that what work should be?

Superficial Love

Okay, so you hear what I’m putting down. You know that you’re not like this because you care about other people. Do you really, or is it a show? You might come across as someone who cares about others because you think relationships are important, but the relationship you are used to is transactional. You only care about people if they can do something for you.

I’ve seen people tread the CEO with so much joy, but walk past the janitor as if they weren’t even there. I’ve seen people only converse with people because they know that the other person is quick to please. They are so easy to work with. Yet, they ignore the person who isn’t afraid to say no to a request. You know why I know the love is fraudulent. I cringe every time I have to talk to you. I have anxiety when I’m in a meeting. You’re always looking towards me to give something to you, but never offering anything in return (or just in general for that matter). That’s not love.

Redefining Leadership

I don’t think you can effectively be leader without love. If love is not even in your vocabulary, I don’t want to work for you. The entire of a team is to get a group of people to work towards a similar goal. If you only look at it singularly, then you’re going to have a poor performing team. The best team, care about each other. They show compassion towards each other. In turn, they have an unshakable belief in each other that causes them to do remarkable things. Look at great teams and tell me that’s not true. Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors call themselves a brotherhood. Tom Brady doesn’t go a day without shouting out his teammates. These are the things that make great teams.

Working with love means creating a sense of belonging. That means creating a sense of community regardless of how you feel about people. By that I mean your differences, whether that be difference in ideology, ethnicity, sex, or way of doing things. The highest part of love is being able to love unconditionally. If that’s not clear, it’s loving without conditions. So throw out the, I’ll only love them if they do this for me, or if they agree with me, or if they look like me. Imagine a place where we can go every day just to feel loved. We don’t have to relegate it to our home or place of worship. We can, and should be able to feel love wherever we go, including at work.