Part 2 - Some facts.

In Part 1 the case is laid out for why love belongs in business. It addresses the squirm factor and succinctly put asks the question:

What do YOU think truly drives a successful, sustainable business more effectively?

Love or Fear? 

I‘d like to prove that the answer is, of course, love.  And in these times of global change, it is needed now more than ever.

A few facts to support the claim for love belongs in business

When we are at work, how we think about the cultural environment impacts how we feel. How we feel at work impacts how we do our work, deliver our product or service and interact with customers. We transmit our mood[1] to our customer, which in turn impacts how they perceive our product or service, which then has a bearing on the profits of the organisation.

Studies[2] show that how teams perform in business is massively impacted by the emotional impact and moods of a few people in them. But you don’t need a piece of research to tell you that, do you? Consider any team you have been on. Did emotions play a major part in success or failure? In fact, leaders’ moods can impact the bottom line. A study of a large retail chain showed that for each one-point increase in a manager’s job satisfaction, there was a corresponding 5% increase in customer spending.[3]

Being committed on a team is also known to raise emotional connection and performance. And it affects the outcome of sports games. A study on penalty shootouts showed that committing to a team and the individual players on the team by demonstrably being more positive, celebratory and showing pride is associated with winning.[4]

Having worked with the English Rugby Football Union and interviewed its Head Coach, about culture, I can tell you he was very committed to creating unity of purpose and shared values among his players. For him, teamwork meant everything, and the most important thing is to answer the question, ‘why are we a team in the first place? What is our meaningful reason for being a team, and what connects us all?

‘I don’t want a team of stars. I want a star team.’

So what about Fear? Well that’s a whole other story.

‘Fear defeats more people than any one thing in the world.’

 Ralph Waldo Emmerson.

Fear is the enemy of happiness and the opposite of love

Fear is a very helpful survival response that helps us flee or fight danger, REAL danger, tigers-and-bears-type danger. We need our fear response to stay alive. But PERCEIVED danger still triggers our fear response in the very same way. Once we sense a potential danger, our body releases hormones that slow or shut down physical functions that aren’t needed for survival. We also become hyper-alert and in this over-active state, the brain perceives events as negative. Living under constant threat weakens us physically, emotionally and mentally. [5]

Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that enable us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately.

‘Fear affects the nervous system, the immune system and the chemistry of the body. Fear is contagious.’

David Hamilton, PhD

In fact all human emotions are contagious. In his excellent book, The Contagious Power of Thinking, Dr David Hamilton proves through many studies that when we experience a mood or emotion it impacts and influences others. Both the positive emotions and the negative.

All of our ‘negative’ emotions have fear at their source. Ami Chen Mills-Naim, Author and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Change[6], demonstrates how fear underlies negative emotions:

Fear of being hurt = Anger

Fear of not being happy because… = Resentment

Fear of losing or not having something = Jealousy

Fear you are bad = Guilt

Fear you’re not whole = Neediness

Fear of being trapped = Self-pity

Fear of the past = Regret

Fear of the future = Anxiety

The source of our fearful feelings are our fearful thoughts. Thoughts that leave us feeling weak, vulnerable and insecure. It’s no surprise that we can think insecure thoughts and feel fear at work as our sense of security can seem directly linked to our survival instinct on the deepest level.

Many organisations use fear, pressure and competition as a ‘motivator’. Shall we explore a little how that actually works in practice? Imagine a business that focuses solely on measureable performance and creates lots of pressure. Pressure builds (think of a pressure-cooker), which creates anxiety and insecurity (fear). We start having tunnel vision, and thinking less effectively and creatively, reducing our available options, spending most of our time in survival, protecting ourselves and our back. This results in a ‘me’ not ‘we’ way of being, which erodes trust and relationships — all of which impacts performance.

When we feel insecure, we do not do our best work. At the basis of any person’s destructive behaviour is always a feeling of insecurity. However, like Leo Tolstoy says: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. Each individual will manifest their fear and insecurity in their own unique way. Some of us get all shouty, demanding and judgmental; some evade, hide and disappear; some become chaotic drama queens; and some get iceberg-cold mean and calculated. On a really bad day some of us do all of that and more.

What is really going on here is that we have become disconnected from that calm, clear place inside us, the innate wisdom and sense of flow that we are all born with. When we’ve lost touch with that we can feel anxious, stressed, urgent, put upon or just plain lost. When we feel ‘bad’ on the inside, it often leaks out on the outside. And as it is with individuals, the same is true with organisations. When we feel ‘bad’ about ourselves as a team or organisation in any way, that impacts the way our customers experience us too.

Like fear, love is deeply human — and, the last time I checked, so is every single person working in, for, or as a customer of a business. And love, like fear, is contagious.

Fear WILL drive you. But you'll go further from love.

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Still feeling squeamish about the word love?

Let’s think about your own experience. When you’re frustrated, distracted or unmotivated, extraordinary amounts of time and energy get wasted. When people are unhappy with themselves, what they do, the people they work with, or the business itself, the results they attain are significantly lower.

Conversely, think about the best team you’ve worked on: what was that like and how did you feel? Just recently I was talking to my 13-year-old-son about teamwork. He’s a keen footballer, and it was very obvious to him what kind of football team is more likely to win: the one where you are all on the same side, you support each other and it’s ok to be you.

What would you call it when troops in battle will fight to the death for king and country, when employees stay late to perfect their projects even though no-one said they had to, when people go the extra mile to make customers feel good, when there is listening and learning, when you have faith in your team to never say die, when there are robust creative discussions in which great ideas are born from connecting? Whatever you call it, forget the actual word and think about that feeling. That.

Does that feeling make work, work better?

See Part 3 for What exactly love in business is and how you make it happen.

Elizabeth Lovius is a Leadership Coach with over 20 years experience. Elizabeth helps leaders access creative flow, have big relationships and lead change.  Because when people think and feel better, they do better. And leaders lead organisations. And Organisations for good can change the world.

Elizabeth’s clients include: Hewlett Packard, IBM, itsu, ITV, Kahoot!, Charlie Bighams, CookFood, Pret a Manger, the English RFU and WPP group.

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[1] The contagious power of thinking David Hamilton Phd

[2] The contagious leader: impact of the leader's mood on the group - Sy, Cote and Saavedra

[3] Customer Spending Growth - Netemeyer, Maxham III and Lichtenstein University of Virginia University

[4] Emotional contagion on penalty shootouts; celebration of individual success is associated with team success

[5] Source: University of Minnesota Impact of fear

[6] Center for Sustainable Change

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