Tina Turner posed the deep philosophical question back in 1984. I doubt she was thinking about it in the context of work.
Talking about love in the workplace? “That’s absurd.” (That’s what a consultant once told me.)
Early in my career, I participated in a workshop brainstorming what various leaders in the organization believed were our core leadership competencies. The outside consultant (not from TiER1) leading the workshop
asked, “What makes a great leader?” After several answers like “vision,” “communication,” and “high-fives,” I responded with “love.” The consultant scoffed, described it as a lawsuit waiting to happen, and didn’t even write it on the flip chart. Embarrassed that my response of “love” wasn’t appropriate next to “high-fives,” I could almost hear Tina singing, “Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” Tina gets me.
Isn’t this the typical problem though? We can’t bring love to work without it becoming an HR violation. Love is something we don’t talk about in the workplace. It’s a topic for our personal lives, Hallmark cards, and for weddings (you know, when we hear its definition by the groom’s random aunt reading the typical passage from 1 Corinthians.) What if love isn’t just core to relationships in our personal lives? What if love is central to all healthy relationships?
Love Belongs at Work
Why does love stop meaning something on Monday mornings? We live and work in a world of relationships. Isn’t that what we’re all in the business of—relationships?
Sure, maybe you sell widgets, a service, coffee, shirts or coffee shirts (Are those a thing? I’d buy them). Whatever your company’s purpose, it’s made up of people working together in relationships. I believe if you have healthy relationships, you have a healthy organization. And healthy organizations sell more coffee shirts.
Focusing on creating and sustaining healthy relationships shouldn’t be segregated to just our personal life. When I put no attention into fostering healthy relationships at work, my life is robbed of fulfillment. Reserving my relational energy for just my personal life has left me disconnected and disengaged at the office, robbing me of health and happiness.
I realized that having healthy relationships at work means loving the people I work with. And loving people at work—well, it takes work.
Habits of Love
Love is a choice; choices drive behavior. Over time, behaviors become habit. Loving people at work can become habit by doing three things:
- Believe in their potential. Love shows up by believing in a person’s highest potential, even when they don’t.
- Know their dreams and celebrate their accomplishments. Love is asking what a person’s hopes and dreams are for their whole life and busting out the party balloons when they reach them.
- Sacrifice your time. Creating and sustaining healthy relationships takes time. Generously giving your time to listen and be authentic with coworkers is the most valuable possession you can give and speaks volumes about how much you care.
Potential of People
Love is not just a topic for weddings or practically every song we sing. It must become a core belief that becomes habit in our life (notice I didn’t say work life). These three habits—grounded in love—create and sustain healthy relationships, giving organizations the opportunity to perform at their best. This kind of love IS appropriate in the workplace.
One of our beliefs at TiER1 Performance Solutions is that organizations exist to serve people, not the other way around. We enable organizations to reach their full potential, to create value, and serve people.
Now that I’m a consultant at TiER1, I get to partner with clients and discover different ways of loving people that enables healthy relationships. I have the chance to bring love to work not only in my organization, but also to my clients’ organizations. Who knows, I might even write it on the flip chart at our next brainstorming session together.
If your organization is brainstorming how to better enable performance through healthy relationships, let’s chat!