The word “love” is not popular in the cubes and offices of today’s companies and organizations. Don’t get me wrong; people still love things. I mean, who doesn’t love a good steak, working for a great boss, or even getting a raise? Things that benefit us are easy to love. But, what about the person sitting next to you…right now? Do you love them?
Leadership guru Steve Farber has been going down this road for the past ten years starting with his book The Radical Leap, challenging leaders to keep love in their leadership playbooks. His new book that comes out this fall entitled Love is Just Damn Good Business pushes the envelope on this idea of incorporating love in the boardroom.
Steve says that leaders are at their best when they are doing what they love in the service of people who love what they do. You can’t escape it, love is woven throughout our daily existence, and everywhere we turn in our everyday 9-5 life.
Most folks balk at the idea of loving the people they work alongside. I led a team years ago and challenged them with this idea. They refused to use the word “love” and said that was reserved for family, close friends, someone in their foxhole in a war, and the person next to them on a sports team. But the person in the adjacent cubicle? Um…NO.
The question I always ask is whether you want those people to experience the best life can offer. Do you want them to be successful at both home and work? Do you want them to be able to buy a nice car? Do you think it would be great if they were able to afford their dream house? How would you feel if their child were to get really sick? Would that bother you? How would you feel if they went through a tough, bitter divorce? How would you feel then? I bet you know what they said. If you answered YES, they would care, then you would be right. So, at that point, I acquiesced and started using the word CARE instead of love.
However you slice it, the right word is still LOVE. In episode 22 of the Apply Rigor Podcast, Steve Farber makes three key statements for why operationalizing love in today’s organizations makes all the difference.
1. “If we want to have a competitive advantage, we need to make products or provide services that our customers LOVE.”
Be honest. When was the last time you bought a product or experienced service and used the word “LOVE.” I LOVE my (fill in the blank). Go read some product reviews on Amazon or Trip Advisor. You will find that the L-word is used in most of the 5-star reviews. Why? Because we feel strongly about the things that BEST meet our needs.
Would you rather have your customers like or care about your products, or would it be better if they LOVED them?
When we design products and services for our clients, we want them to be loved. Customer satisfaction means something. If they don’t love what we do for them, there is no great likelihood that they are going to stay with us, come back, or talk about us. If our target audience feels strongly about what we provide, then it means repeat business and a sustainable model for success.
The mysteriously elusive question is, “How do I make products and services that people love?” Keep reading.
2. “If we want to create products and services that people love, we have to create a culture that people love working in.”
When people work in a place they love, they produce products and services that their customers love. Southwest Airlines is a place where people love to work. It is their love for their culture that bleeds over into creating a customer experience that makes them the most loved airline AND one of the best places to work in America.
Would you rather have employees who like or care about your culture, or would it be better if they LOVED your culture?
How many Disney Pixar movies have brought a tear to your eye over the years? Come on! You can’t tell me the opening montage of the movie UP doesn’t get you every time. Ed Catmull, president of Disney Animation and former co-founder of Pixar, helped create a culture so healthy that their team produced films that you and I LOVE. Those films are brilliant because Ed and his team created a culture that people loved working in. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to work in a place with a giant wall of cereal?!
To create products and services that customers love, you must create an environment that people love working in. Let’s push this one step further.
3. “If we want to create an environment that people love working in, we must love them, the business and what we’re trying to do first.”
This is the tip of the spear. Whether you like it or not, everything starts with love. You have to love your people, your business, and your vision. If you kind of like these things you won’t make it, and your business will never come close to its potential.
Love is like a waterfall. If you start at the top and love your people first and your culture second, your customers will love what you do for them or produce third.
Waterfalls don’t go up. You can’t hope your clients will love your products and services first, then that will somehow make your environment so healthy that your staff loves the culture, which will cause you to LOVE your people, business and vision last.
Where do we go from here? We must start with first things first. Do you love your people? If not, why? What needs to change? Who needs to change? Do you have a compelling vision that’s clear and gets you out of bed each day with unbridled passion, focus, and excitement?
If you already love your people and vision, how’s your culture? Do you love it? If you don’t love it, no one else will. Do you have a clear vision for your culture?
Finally, how do people feel about your products and services? Are your customer satisfaction grades through the roof? If not, why? Have you bought your products? When was the last time you called your own customer service group to see what it was like to work through an issue?
If you find yourself growing more frustrated as you answer these questions, please know that we can help. We serve people every day that are all over this spectrum to help them find a compelling vision, strategy, and comprehensive plan to launch them toward reaching their potential. Why? Because we love who you and your organization could become, and after all, as Steve said, “love is just damn good business.”