How to Love Your Neighbor/Colleague/Boss/Team
Happy Fathers Day to those of you who are fathers and grand-fathers! I hope your day was as special as mine. My family and I just returned from Myrtle Beach where the weather was perfect the entire week and Colin (3 year old) and I slept in every morning until 10 am!
I spent a lot of my time preparing my lesson plan for the upcoming summer session. I am teaching a Leadership course at Capital University for the MBA program beginning next week. As I worked through various topics such as managing stress, organizational behavior, generations, etc., I continued to swirl my brain about one topic… how do I show love at work.
My HR friends reading this across the globe probably panicked a little, but please allow me to explain. There are many types of love. I love my wife and children differently, but they (along with my God), are my greatest loves. I love the Indians, Cavs (don’t troll), and Buckeyes. I love going on vacation and reading. I love seeing great stories like how people rally when others are in need. Each love is different and covers a wide spectrum such as passion, interests, faith, and family.
I think there is a type of love we sometimes miss that is required to be a successful leader and that is being able to love at work. Now the reader must understand one thing about me, I make mistakes. As my father-in-law often says from the pulpit, “I am the biggest consumer of grace there is”. If he is #1 then I am #2. We all slip up and mistreat someone through words or actions, but the kind of love I am speaking of is the lifeboat that pulls people in when you torpedoed them with unkindness. My 5 year old son Jackson put it best last night. We drove 12 hours and all were tired. His brother passed out in the bunk below and he himself nearing sleep he said, “Daddy, I LOVE you and you know what? I always will….even when I get mad at you…because….well… that’s how life works”! He spontaneously kissed my hand, pulled the blanket over his head, and was asleep.
I left his room with soggy eyes and I thought,”this boy, such wisdom, and sees the key that most of us miss, love”. I laid awake until 2:00 a.m. thinking about Jackson’s words and wondering how I could be more like this 5 year old. How do I forget about the bullies, the one-uppers, the hurtful actions of others…. how does work-love work in those scenarios?
That’s just how life works. Listen friends, we all have those people in our past and present that the mere mention of their name will make your face turn red and blood pressure rise. So how do you show love in that situation? You love by turning the page. You can’t undo what has been done, but you have a choice to love yourself enough to not ruminate about the hurt. You show love to that person by moving on, whether they deserve it or not. Some of the worst leaders I have ever worked for or were subjected to turned out to be the most important lessons in my career. Love the lessons you learned from them and be thankful you received the hurt instead of delivering it to someone who did not deserve it.
So bring the same lesson of love to today. “But Jason, you don’t know what he/she is doing to me! You want me to love that boss”. Yep. As I mentioned above, love comes in many forms. If someone is persecuting you, there is likely to be a deeper troubled root. Maybe they don’t understand the work. Maybe they lost a loved one. Maybe their boss is unkind or attentive to them. Does it excuse their behavior? No of course not! You show love by taking the high road and executing the job you are expected to do. Root yourself in integrity, do not compromise your values, and execute! Get out if the opportunity arises, but the high road is the road to impact change. That is showing love.
I will close with this. I show love in a variety of ways at work. To my direct reports, I show them love through absolute trust. They make mistakes, so do I, love is rolling up my sleeves and digging with them. To the Managers that report to my directs, I try to show them love through confidence building. They are all very good and I make sure I interact with them as much as possible to thank them for the work they do and to reiterate my belief in them. To each member on their teams, a total of about 110, I love them through time. Over the course of the past three months I have conducted 30 minute 1:1s with each of them. We don’t talk about production or quality, but what drives each Joe and Sally on my team. I diligently take notes so I can follow up on that big game, the scary surgery, the vacation, etc. They are important to me and I love them with my time.
In the workplace love can be shown by forgiving, trusting, helping, and giving. It’s not a romantic gesture, rather a gesture of goodwill. It takes a lot of effort to invest at this level and forget the past, both are still struggles for me, it at the end of the day you will be successful because you are building a foundation of stone and driving people from the inside instead of the outside.