Photo: Michael Bendtsen
I spent 2014 writing monthly articles for i-Coach magazine and now we (the regular contributors) are beginning to shape the articles into a book. I felt like it was time for me to come back on the scene and begin writing about the workplace again. So, here I am and this is what has been coming up for me this past year.
I have a fire burning in the very depth of my soul and it has been burning for a very long time. During my time as a leader inside corporate, as an employee engagement facilitator, and as an executive coach, I have been privy to the immense stress, intimidation and fear that is being created by many of our leaders inside our companies. I hear story after story of organizations asserting control and domination over their top leaders, mid-level managers and employees. Oftentimes, it is accompanied by masking the complete misalignment of the organization’s values, and ultimately creating toxic cultures.
There are few punishments greater than the gradual, yet steady erosion of self-confidence and self-esteem inside the workplace. This is the result of a work life of perpetual compromise, of constantly seeking approval and a never-ending search to meet the expectations of others.
According to the latest Gallup study only 1 in 4 people are engaged with their jobs. People are going home from work every day with no sense of meaning or purpose in their lives. These same people go home to their families and treat them the same way they have been treated at work. The ripple effect of the stress created inside the workplace in this country is immense.
The rate of antidepressant use in the US increased nearly 400 percent over the last two decades according to a report published in 2011. The culture of our country is based on profit, growth and shareholder value. How do we, the people, fit into this equation?
Leading with love inside the workplace requires trust, not control. The new power structure is love and trust. Work as an expression of love equates to freedom. When we awaken to a new model of leading with our head AND our hearts, we begin to validate the worth of every individual. As leaders, we begin believing in our most precious asset – people, and that includes employees, customers, suppliers, partners, and board members.
What if we express love, tenderness, compassion, empathy and care inside the workplace? What if we treat people inside the workplace as if they were our family members? What if we allow people to be who they were meant to be, discover their gifts, develop their talents and share their innate value? What if we recognize and appreciate people along the way? I say, both organizations and people will win in the long run.
I’ve come to understand that we are meant to live this life in relationship, together, in dialogue, sharing our journey of lessons in loss, sadness, forgiveness, acceptance, faith, and joy. I know the truth of our human experience is not to learn what love is, but rather what our relationship is with love.
As an executive coach, I am asked almost weekly, “Are you sure you should be talking about love in the workplace?” “Do you think organizations and leaders are ready to hear that word?”
I SAY it is time to bring an OUTRAGEOUS form of LOVE out of the corporate closet.
I SAY it is time to begin to lead with our head AND our hearts where we validate the worth of every individual.
I SAY it is time to express love, tenderness, compassion, empathy and care inside the workplace.
I SAY it is time to begin to treat people inside the workplace as if they were our family members.
Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc., says it best, “Leadership is the stewardship of the people whose lives we are entrusted.” At Barry-Wehmiller, they measure success by how they touch the lives of people. They recognize and celebrate their people. They send people home to their families with a sense of accomplishment so they can be present and loving. They create value for all stakeholders in the company. They lead with a set of guiding principles that start with People, Purpose and Performance.
I’ve walked to the edge of the cliff and stared down at the abyss of stress we have created inside the workplace long enough. It is time we begin to utter the words of LOVE inside the workplace.
I believe that there is no greater gift that you can bestow upon another individual than an unrelenting belief in their potential. And finally, I believe that leading with love is the cure to our workplace stress.
Who is boarding this LOVE train with me? I want to hear from you. Let’s link together heart to heart.