The role of love in leadership and business growth

Our world faces today unprecedented changes fueled by the combined forces of new paradigms. As Salim Ismail states in his book “Exponential Organizations,” amazing technology advancements are now joined by other disrupting elements such as social networks, big data, crowd sourcing and new generations, creating what he calls “the perfect storm.”

Disruption in every aspect of our life will happen at such speed and magnitude that knowing more and doing more will no longer be enough to stay afloat. Leaders, now more than ever, need to strengthen the “being” dimension: who we are and what we are here for.

Working with this new reality is not just a new learning process; it requires an inside-out transformation both from a business perspective and from a personal one.

The traditional view of business growth only driven by profit optimization must be transformed to become purpose driven, as sustainability of growth is only achieved when a deeper purpose to generate a benefit for society is the central driver of its existence. This driver can also be called love—one of the two forces that drive human behavior. The other one, the flip side, is fear. Love generates passion to create and contribute, while fear fuels self-interest, which is the dominant driver of business in our world today.

Love is rarely related to or even mentioned in a business environment today. Kenneth Boulding, one of the most renowned economists of the last century, states: “The main obstacle for economic growth today has been the incapacity of the (integral) system to boost love beyond the family ambit.”

We seem afraid to even talk about love in a business setting, yet famous economists like Boulding and Adam Smith, founding father of economics, advocate it as necessary for business growth. Smith said: “Self-interest will never be able to replace benevolence toward others as a necessary element to attain universal opulence.”

Why then have we avoided love in business?

From an economic or business perspective, love is difficult to be defined and measured. From a personal standpoint, it entails working on ourselves, facing and transcending our fears and deficiencies…not an easy job. However, everything starts there: within you, within me.

Perhaps the missing link to connect love and business in today’s world is loyalty—from customers and from employees.

It is common belief that loyalty is achieved by such things as the right price of products for customers or the best salary for employees, customer “service” or employee training. These elements are necessary conditions of loyalty but not sufficient.

Loyalty is not a function of the mind but of the heart.

Only when customers feel (and experience) that the service or product we provide is driven by a deep intention to generate a benefit for them, to enrich their life as people, loyalty can emerge. The same applies for salaries or training provided to employees. And loyalty from employees and customers is the base for sustainable business growth.

Such deep intention is also called caring or love.

But the duality of forces driving our behavior as human beings is constant: love/caring versus fear/self-interest. Managing this duality is the job—the path of transformation required from us in the new time.

The way to do this is through consciousness:

  • Being aware of the intention behind each and every one of our actions or decisions, day by day, minute by minute.
  • Being aware that self-interest disguises very easily as care or love.
  • Becoming our own observers but also being aware of our conditioned tendency to judge both others and ourselves.
  • Observing yourself compassionately—with no judgment—but persistently and taking consistent action.

Understand your fears and be determined to awaken your essence: love.

“As mind merges in the heart, true understanding awakens. You are the invisible inside the visible, the unmoving inside all movements. Like space moving in space, glowing inside a thin skin called a human being.” —Mooji

2 thoughts

  1. I was hesitant to share this post though I believe in every word in it! until I read this “We seem afraid to even talk about love in a business setting”

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