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

Why Not Tell Your Boss He’s Driving You Crazy?

CourageFrom the blogs I’ve read, many people are unhappy at work. We complain about bosses, and organisations, that drive us crazy. They don’t make sense, they ignore the reality of getting the job done, they say one thing but do another, they are impatient but refuse to give us the resources we need … the list goes on. So why do we put up with it? Why do we settle for the irritation, the angst, the unhappiness?

Last year I left my husband of thirty years, it was the most painful decision I have ever made. For three years I was desperately unhappy, complained about him, blamed him, tried to resolve the conflicts… and, once I chose to leave, I felt like a failure. But then a friend – someone I respect and admire – said ‘That must have taken a lot of courage‘. I was shocked, I didn’t see myself as a courageous person, leaving was not a courageous act in my book.

This one comment changed my perspective, it sent me on a search for meaning, what does it mean to live courageously?

My search for courage led me to this: ‘Dare to be my true self, in spite of my fears‘. Hmm, so what does that mean for me? It means going beyond the fears that lead me to play small in relationships, at work and at home. To let myself go beyond the fear of what others will think, beyond the fear of how they might react, beyond the fear of the unknown.

Continue reading “Why Not Tell Your Boss He’s Driving You Crazy?”

The 18th Camel

Businesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binocularsThe story is told of a father who left 17 camels as the inheritance for his three sons.

When the father passed away, his sons opened up the will. It stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 camels while the middle son should be given one third. The youngest son should be given one ninth of the 17 camels.

The sons were furious. “It isn’t possible to divide 17 in half, or by three, or by nine!” and they started to fight with each other. After the venting of anger and frustration abated, the three sons decided to go to a wise man for assistance.

The wise man listened patiently about the will, then reflected for some time. He left the three sons, returning with a camel of his own, which he added to the group of 17, thereby increasing the total to 18 camels.

He then read the deceased father’s will to the three sons:

Half of 18 equals nine; so he gave the eldest son nine camels.

One third of 18 equals 6; so he gave the middle son six camels.

One ninth of 18 equals two; so he gave the youngest son two camels.

Nine plus six plus two equals 17, so there was one camel left, which the wise man took back home.

So what’s the lesson here? A key aspect of constructive negotiation is to find the “18th Camel”, i.e., the creative solution outside of the once-presumed-finite possibilities. Once a person is able to find the “18th Camel”, possibilities open and issues can more easily be resolved.

The first and perhaps most critical step in reaching a solution is to hold the mindset that there can be a mutually satisfying solution that we need not be limited by our current thinking. While having that mindset doesn’t guarantee a solution, not having it will ensure stagnancy and limit options. The invitation, then, is to open our thinking to promote and allow fresh thinking and new options into the negotiation conversations- and move forward with that constructive mindset.

What are your experiences with creative solutions to conflicts? I welcome your stories and learnings.



About the author

Andrew is Axialent Faculty Network Member. For over 20 years he has worked globally as a consultant, facilitator, coach and problem-solver for businesses and individuals. Andrew’s work improves his clients’ business results and culture, and enhances individual performance and satisfaction. Andrew brings clarity to complex problems. He helps focus leaders at all levels on what matters most and how to effectively act on it. Read more >



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