Leadership and Love
Some lingering clichés: The weary worker coming home after a long day at "the plant" and kicking his dog; the long-suffering Ralph Kramden shouting "To the moon, Alice" at his (also long-suffering) wife; the executive who wants his wife to meet him at the door with a martini and then keep the kids quiet and out of the way until he's had a chance to relax and read the paper. Did all of our parents hate their jobs? Did our grandparents stay in jobs for 40 years only to receive that gold watch at the end of a life full of "thank God it's Friday's?"
Was it after the downsizing of the 80's that we realized we can't rely on an employer to always be there, that we'd better not let our jobs define us? So now we have a generation of workers who do not hesitate to change jobs for any number of reasons. Don't get along with your boss? See ya. Sink in the bathroom stopped up again? ‘Bye. One wonders if our current high unemployment means workers will stay in hated jobs again.
Then again, some people love their jobs. Love them. Can you imagine? Recent studies show job satisfaction dropping like a rock, but a popular management parable claims loving your job is possible, and helping you fall in love with your job is the responsibility of your supervisor.
The Radical Leap, by Steve Farber, is one of those little management books, like the One Minute Manager and Who Moved My Cheese, that provides lessons in the form of parables. My well worn copy of this story about a wise surfer (seriously) is still close at hand, long after I stopped caring about my cheese and I listed reading it among the 12 suggestions for employers/supervisors wanting to improve the workplace in my December 29, 2009 column.
The message here is that a true leader will inspire his or her employees to achieve success for themselves and the business by cultivating love: "Love of what future we create together, love of what principles we live out, love of what people I have around me, what they want for their lives, what customers I have and might have in the future if I am smarter, faster, and more creative in serving their needs. Love for the impact we have on their lives and the world as a whole, for what our business really is and what we really do at work every day."
How's that for an audacious attitude? The wise surfer says that love creates the boundless energy necessary to inspire the courage needed to overcome the fear that can cripple us. Michael Gunther addressed the importance of attitude on these pages a few weeks ago. We know it's going to take something special for our businesses to thrive this year, so we might as well try love.