Leadership Valentine

Several years ago on Valentine’s Day, Tim Sanders’ book, Love is the Killer App was released. We were in the throes of the dot com bust and everyone was looking for the “killer app” that would drive the next wave. Sanders showed up, telling us that love is the most powerful force in business.

Not many people jumped on the bandwagon. With Boomers – the “me generation” – at the helm in many organizations, greed and the thirst for power seem to be on the rise. In the five years since the publication of Sander’s book, we’ve continued to lose trust in our business leaders and elected officials. Our willingness to “give our all” in the workplace is very low and still on the decline. Gallup tells us that only 29% of employees are truly engaged at work. The rest are somewhere between checked out and acting out.

But Sanders was right. He defines love as sharing your knowledge, networks and compassion with your business partners. It’s pretty easy to make the business case for sharing knowledge and networks. They are the essential raw ingredients of the knowledge economy. If you hoard your knowledge and networks, creativity will wither; share them and it can grow exponentially.

Compassion – that’s the tough one. To share compassion with your partners, you’ve got to feel it. You’ve got to be in touch with your experience at work, know how you are feeling. Mostly we prefer not to do that and we tell ourselves that’s how it should be lest our personal lives distract us from the task at hand. Actually, that’s not how it works. Since the brain is more like a web than a file cabinet, attempting to shut out one aspect of our experience makes it harder for us to fully use our brains. And that degrades our performance at work.

This Valentine’s Day, give your business a little love. You might just get a little love back in the form of brand loyalty, employee productivity, creative problem solving, and market mindshare. As the Beatles said, “Love is all there is.”