How to Lead with Love

Many people choose not to be entrepreneurs.  They prefer the security and safety of working for someone else. 

If you’re an employer, you may question how to create a productive workplace….how to manage your workforce.

 The question often asked in management sessions, especially those with union membership, is  “Which is better — the carrot or the stick?” 

Reward versus punishment.  Love me or leave me.

In an early United States recognition of the “carrot” approach, Henry Ford,  [according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] founder of the Ford Motor Company, “astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage, which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. (Using the Consumer Price Index, this was equivalent to $106 per day in 2008 dollars.) The move proved extremely profitable; instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing in their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs. Ford called it “wage motive.” 

“Ford also believed that union leaders (most particularly Leninist-leaning ones) had a perverse incentive to foment perpetual socio-economic crisis as a way to maintain their own power. Meanwhile, he believed that smart managers had an incentive to do right by their workers, because doing so would actually maximize their own profits. (Ford did acknowledge, however, that many managers were basically too bad at managing to understand this fact.)  But Ford believed that eventually, if good managers such as himself could successfully fend off the attacks of misguided people from both left and right (i.e., both socialists and bad-manager reactionaries), the good managers would create a socio-economic system wherein neither bad management nor bad unions could find enough support to continue existing.”

Ford’s background and religious beliefs, similar to many leaders of his time, was such that work was not considered to be fulfilling in and of itself,  saying: “There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.”

He set himself apart, however, in his recognition that “smart managers had an incentive to do right by their workers, because doing so would actually maximize their own profits.” (Ford did acknowledge, however, that many managers were basically too bad at managing to understand this fact.)

Moving out of the industrial age into the information age, many companies recognize that “doing right by their workers” requires more than “wage motive.”  In addition to decent wages and benefits, today’s workers want, and expect, to be fulfilled, at least in part, with what they do.  Your employees want to have a reason to “show up.”  One that goes beyond the paycheck. 

So…right now…if you’re wondering what you can you do to go beyond providing a paycheck…to create a reason for employees to show up…

Lead with Love.  To lead with loving, caring regard for another individual,  to “maximize the workers profits,” you must:

  • Listen.   As a manager, it is the single most important thing you can do.  To know an employee’s family, to ask about the health of their loved ones, to solicit their ideas and implement them whenever possible.  When an employees knows they’ve been heard, they feel individually valued, and that they add value to the organization.
  • Give Recognition.   This can be in the form of a gift certificate, recognition in the Company newsletter… or…often most appreciated…a simple “Thank you.”  Regular, genuine recognition and praise will enhance job satisfacation, provide  increased work engagement, and improve group performance.  One “recognized”, inspired employee inspires many.
  • Provide opportunity for personal growth.  Providing opportunities for an employee to enrich themselves can mean different things for different people.  Allowing each individual to provide input, and then providing what is possible within time and money constraints is often very rewarding for both the employee and the company.  There is, I believe, a caveat with this, however.  And that is, making it more meaningful by asking the employee how whatever personal growth endeavour they undertake can be used in their own work when they return, and then following up for implementation.
  • Provide employees time off.  Let me repeat that…time off.   Not away….  off.  No expectation, and in fact, a prohibition, to checking in, checking e-mails, or otherwise contributing to the work flow.  There are numerous studies that support how much more productive employees who truly “got away” during their time off…were when they returned.
  • Allow work freedom.  By allowing an employee to determine the method in which their tasks will be accomplished, within reasonable guidelines, you will be allowing them to take control of their work.  And…provide them opportunity for finding creative, faster, and better ways to get things done! 
  •  Help individuals find work they love to do.  Within most units of work, some people are better at certain tasks than others…for the simple reason they enjoy it!  By asking and testing skill sets it is often possible to allow people to do the work they love to do, rather than work they are poorly suited for or intensely dislike.  Of course, there will always be some tasks on a given position an individual likes to do more than others, but will still have to accomplish.  Those tasks won’t seem so undesirable, however, when most of their work is enjoyable!
  • Create freedom.  Accommodate flexible schedules, time off work for family needs, and the opportunity for employees to participate more fully in company decisions.  While you undoubtedly know these suggestions require great relationship to work, they can have tremendous payback!

Implement these 7 simple concepts right now.   Create an environment where others are eager to join you.  

 Lead…your family…your employees…or your employer…your friends… with love.  Listen with positive, unconditional regard.  Be supportive of their endeavours. 

Create positive interactions wherever you’re at.  With…a smile!

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