What If Love Can Change the Business?

Anu Härkönen works as Executive Consultant for Birn+Partners in Finland, Helsinki. She has worked with leaders and managers as a Personal Coach, Trainer and Consultant. She views executive search and onboarding as tools to help companies in this Transformative Age to find and keep the best talented leaders.

 

What if love can change the business? With this question I’m referring to the two occasions which have drawn the most media attention during past weeks. Namely the Royal wedding in Britain in which a prince made an ordinary woman, well, an American actress, a princess (albeit not her official title) and the Singapore Summit in which two leaders, Trump and Kim met. In both occasions there was something that made the world to be astonished. Namely the way future was communicated.

In Royal wedding the American Bishop Michael Carry gave a speech in which he used the word “love” more than 70 times. Which as such, talking about wedding, should not be anything surprising. But the way he used the word “love” was unusual. He started with saying that “there is power in love…Power to change the world”. And then later he asked us to “Imagine business and commerce when love is the way”.

In Singapore Summit the American President Donald Trump showed a tailor-made video to North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un directly from his tablet. There were several “What if” questions such as “What if we can find a common future?”, “What if the man chooses to show vision and leadership?”.  “What if” seems to be at the moment the most powerful question to change the world.

So, what if love can change the business? What if your employees would love your company? What if your employees would love you as a leader and the way you lead? Some might argue that they, as a leader, can ensure that their employees love the company. But do their employees love, or even like them as a leader?”

Love and business are not words often mentioned together. Some leaders say their work is their passion and some may even say that they love their work. So, does that mean that they love their employees? How about you, do you love your staff? Does your staff love you as a boss? Is that even possible? And if it is, would that make a difference?

 

Love is not a business type word. Except when we talk about customers. Then we all agree that loving your customer isn’t just nice, it’s smart business. I heard that Starbucks furnish their coffeehouses with round tables because some research has shown that customers don’t feel so lonely sitting in round tables by themselves. Isn’t that caring? Most companies have made something called customer journey mapping in which the purpose is to analyze the key touch points in which the services and products meet customers in omnichannel surrounding.

Why we do those customer journey mappings? Because we hope to find new and better ways to serve our customers, make them our loyal brand ambassadors and even to love our brand and our products. Some have succeeded in that better than others. Have you ever wondered why people buy clothes with huge brand names and logos on? I’m writing this blog at Schiphol Airport and I feel all those global brands surrounding me – most clothes and accessories have designer’s names on them. Why? We buy brands, because we love them.

 

While doing customer-centric strategies with love and care I haven’t seen any “love and care” words for characteristics of an outstanding leader. Micha Kaufman, a member of Forbes Council, listed several traits of a great business leader such as: persistent, rhino-thick skin, fearlessness, toughness. Adding thus that “don’t take the tough act too far. People work better for managers they like.”

Since President Trump was already mentioned, let’s put this in his language.  He advised leaders “When somebody challenges you, fight back. Be brutal, be tough.” What if this is not how it works any longer? Because the demands of today’s business calls for caring, humility and more reflective leadership.  Maureen Metcalf, also a member of Forbes Councils, describes leadership skills for 2020. She states that leaders must evolve to attract best people and to thus produce best products and services. She says that leaders should create followership by being authentic and reflective by seeking constantly feedback from their own organization. This promotes change-friendly business culture. “Change-friendly” organization is an opposite to that what you most often deal with during the transformation process.

 

When asked employees about the characteristics of excellent leaders they do have a clear opinion. I have tested this exercise during my trainings at least hundred times. An excellent leader is always described as trustworthy, honest and fair. Further employees hope that leaders have a positive attitude, a clear vision or direction, an ability to communicate openly and inspire everyone. No love mentioned.

Thinking about love. You love someone because you think the person is trustworthy, honest and fair. You hope that you see your common future positively, that you have similar or even same goals, you communicate well and are inspired together. Just like excellent leaders are described. What if you come back from your holiday and decide that you do everything to make your employees to love you and the way you lead?

 

Have a lovely summer holiday with your loved ones and remember Bishop Carry’s words “There is power in love”.