Importance of love at work – no, not an affair between colleagues but the positive valuing and respect of one colleague to another or a leader and his or her team.

‘Love,’ in a work context could be described as  genuinely valuing the people around you, and the context you work in, so as to provide the emotional space and security for confident exploration and learning. Quoted from the MBA module Creativity and Change (Open University Business school) and referencing Charles Handy (1991).

My last blog post referred to the importance of allowing for mistakes and forgiveness. This is closely related because in order to allow mistakes to happen and to learn from them, there needs to be a climate that is secure and enables growth of the individual.

As I write this I am taken back to the importance of love in developing children into adulthood. When a young child feels secure, and only then, can they freely explore. Insecurity results in a dependency and inability to take decisions or even accept responsibility for decisions.

In the workplace I have often heard managers and leaders complain that their staff do not take any responsibility for themselves and are always looking for answers from them, the manager. When this is said, one on my first thoughts would be how secure do the employees  feel about trying something different and maybe making a mistake? A recent similar discussion took place in a seminar I was facilitating; this was around the concept of empowerment and how difficult many managers find it to empower their staff, and by doing so, giving up their control.

So coming back to the concept of love, or if this feels too uncomfortable, try ‘unconditional positive regard,’ it is important in order to enable people to grow, develop, learn from their mistakes and become more effective employees. Through this, organisations may grow and become more innovative.

What can leaders do then to create a climate in which employees feel valued, and secure in order to develop?

  • Value and respect what each person who works for you brings to their work.
  • Show appreciation of what is being done well, this means more than just thanking them, it means acknowledging what they have done and specifically how it adds value
  • Coach in a supportive way around areas where mistakes have been made
  • Encourage team building so that the team feels valued and value each other.
  • Embrace differences and value them
  • Be open to new ideas when they are presented
  • Ask for idea sharing and value what comes out

None of this comes easily to a stressed leader, however one of the reasons why leaders often get stressed is that they do not empower and share responsibility with others through delegating.

There is however another element here which is crucial and which I will address in my next blog post– trust.

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