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Lessons For Managers From Love As A Business Strategy

This article was based on episode 167 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Get 1 of 5 copies of Love As A Business Strategy when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join.

Does “love” have a place in the workplace? Mohammad Anwar and Frank Danna, coauthors of the book Love as a Business Strategy certainly think so. Their six steps to creating a culture of love at work are super practical and grounded. Mohammad and Frank are the CEO and Director of Culture respectively of Softway, an organization dedicated to building resilience and driving valuable change inside the office. They break down the six essential pillars of building a work environment using love, while also explaining how to cultivate more introspection and empathy as leaders.

A CULTURE OF LOVE

Love as a business strategy is based on the belief that we maximize profits when we prioritize our people. This means the organization’s culture is of utmost importance. Mohammad and Frank define culture as all the behaviors that create the environment. While we can't see culture, we feel it everywhere. The environment may be a positive, empowering one, or a negative, fear-based one.

SIX PILLARS THAT MAKE UP A CULTURE OF LOVE

  1. Inclusion: Visible and Invisible

Inclusion means that diversity is embraced and everyone has a voice and seat at the table. There are visible elements to diversity (like race, gender, and sometimes religion) and invisible elements (like differing in how we value our time or our educational background). It’s important to give space to both the visible and invisible diversity, and offer everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts.

  1. Empathy: Put Yourself In Someone Else’s Shoes

Empathy is a skill, not a trait. It’s an ability we can strengthen in ourselves by working on it over time. Empathy means taking the time to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is different from you. When we do this, we move from embracing inclusion as a concept to realizing inclusion as a practice.

  1. Vulnerability: Take Ownership Over Your Mistakes

Vulnerability at work is about taking ownership for your mistakes and apologizing when you’ve messed up. It’s admitting when you don’t know something instead of trying to always look good. This type of vulnerability helps your coworkers feel like they can trust you.

  1. Trust: Believing Your Staff Can Handle What They Haven’t Tried

It’s easy to trust a colleague to accomplish a certain task because they’ve done it before. This is called predictive trust. But to really trust a coworker with unconditional or vulnerable trust, we need to believe they can do something even if they’ve never tried it. This type of trust deeply impacts how empowered your team feels and whether they are provided opportunities to try new things.

  1. Empowerment: Set Up Your Team To Succeed Without You

We want our employees to take on projects from a place of confidence, believing they can shape them into something they are proud of. Empowerment will only happen if we as managers make sure to set them up with everything that they need in order to succeed and then stay out of their way.

  1. Forgiveness: Let Mistakes Go

Mistakes are inevitable. Along with taking ownership over our mistakes, we need to create a culture in which we can talk about forgiveness for others’ mistakes. When we feel wronged, we start to harbor resentment. This can evolve into thinking it’s okay to mistreat people which leads to a toxic workplace. Actively cultivating forgiveness allows our team to reconcile and move past mistakes or unintentional harms that coworkers have committed.

INTROSPECTION AS A PREREQUISITE FOR CREATING A CULTURE OF LOVE

There’s a huge difference between reflection and introspection. After a meeting, we may reflect on what actions we could have done better that would have led to better outcomes. Introspection, on the other hand, is asking ourselves about our mindset.

To introspect after a meeting, we may ask ourselves, “Why was I so nervous before that meeting?” or “Why did I get upset when my coworker asked me that in the middle of the presentation?” Self awareness gives us the ability to improve at leading our people because we understand ourselves and them better. This in turn leads to greater trust and empathy. It’s also becoming increasingly obvious nowadays how important it is to question pre-existing norms (and who gets to set them) as part of building an inclusive workplace. Therefore, introspection is a necessary prerequisite to creating a culture of love.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SYMPATHETIC, APATHETIC, AND EMPATHETIC LEADERS

When one of our team members is overwhelmed with a problem, we need to become empathetic, not sympathetic, leaders to truly support them.

Mohammad and Frank share this analogy: imagine you’re stuck in a hole. A sympathetic leader sees that you’re having trouble and offers you sympathy but doesn’t do anything to help you get out of the hole. An apathetic leader ignores your troubles and just focuses on the work that needs to be done. An empathetic leader, however, jumps in the hole with you and tries to help you figure out how to get out. Empathetic leaders work with their team on options, ideas, and thinking through solutions together.

Cultures form from the ways in which we treat each other. Culture can be felt at every moment, so we want to make sure we create one that feels incredibly supportive for our team. To create a culture of love, start by practicing introspection and explore how you are activating the six pillars (or not). Using love as a business strategy takes a lot of work, but for both the happiness of your team and your bottomline, it’s always worth it.

KEEP UP WITH MOHAMMAD AND FRANK


Get one of five copies of Love As A Business Strategy when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join. Purchase individual episode guides at themodernmanager.com/shop to help you implement the learnings and continue to enhance your rockstar manager skills.


This article was based on episode 167 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.

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