The more conversations I have, the more I think the answer is “everything.” Howard Schultz talked about it during our interview. So did Mitch Albom. It’s funny how so many people would scoff at the question, as if there’s no place for love in business. Yet, it’s showing up everywhere. Love is gaining steam.
It’s making its way into the thinking of the business establishment. Case in point, I recently met Jim Collins. He’s a good friend of Kathy Long-Holland, a very successful entrepreneur. As a chapter chair for Women’s Presidents Organization, Kathy invited Jim to join a small group of women entrepreneurs for dinner and conversation. It was an amazing opportunity, sitting down with the author of Good to Great, Built to Last and How the Mighty Fall, getting to pick his brain and receive personal advice. Over dessert, I asked: If you had to boil down all of your learnings to just a few things, what would you say characterizes a great leader? Jim’s first response is telling: “I’ve learned great leaders care about something greater than themselves.” I think that has everything to do with love.
I’m fortunate to work with people who aren’t afraid to love. As just one example, when I dissolved a prior partnership and started Gagen MacDonald, my old team came to me and volunteered a pay cut across the board to help the new company get traction. I had never experienced anything like it. It was a gesture of great love – making personal sacrifice and stepping up out of love for each other, love for what we knew we could accomplish together, and (I clearly felt) love for me. They are leaders that clearly care about something greater than themselves. So do many others.
Howard’s built Starbuck’s into a profitable company with a social conscience; Steve Jobs has executed Apple’s vision to “make a dent in the world” by redesigning how people engage with it and each other; and Andrea Jung has dedicated Avon to celebrating women and furthering their financial independence.
One of our firm’s guiding principles is “When in doubt, do the loving thing.” Although you may not state it that explicitly, I see many of you acting in the same way.
I’d love to hear where you’re seeing love in action in your organization!