How to Make a Habit of Love

There are three kinds of love. One is the “erotic” (from the Greek word Eros) or romantic love people often default to in their thinking when they hear the word. Another is “brotherly” love (the Greek word behind this is Phileo hence the city of brotherly love is Philadelphia). This is the kind of devotion you commonly see among close siblings and friends. Finally, there is the love that is a verb. It doesn’t depend on feelings. This love acts toward another person in their best interest regardless of emotional attachment.

In my post on the Engager Dynamic called Love I quoted from a book by James C. Hunter called The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership. He describes the verb kind of love as having these components:

Patient – showing self control
Kind – giving attention, appreciation, and encouragement
Humble – being authentic, without pretense or arrogance
Respectful – treating others as important people
Selfless – meeting the needs of others
Forgiving – giving up resentment when wronged
Honest – being free from deception of all kinds
Committed – sticking to choices even with potential negative personal impact

Put the words “Love is …” in front of each of those character qualities and you’ll find it sounds pretty familiar. Hunter has paraphrased part of the Love chapter in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 13. You may have heard it read at weddings.

The interesting thing is that with most of the Engager Dynamics, what makes you a good boss also makes you a good human being. It makes sense, then, that we can look to places like the Bible to find clues on how to be a good boss.

Putting it to Work

“What does this have to do with work?” you may ask. I know of a company where the CEO signs off his emails not with “Respectfully Yours,” or “Sincerely,” but he says, “Love ya!” And the people in his organization believe it. What do you think the work atmosphere is like there? But it’s not just words. Look at the list above again. Every one of the descriptions begins with a verb, actions. Love is about how we behave.

Taking a cue from Stephen Covey where he suggested we begin with the end in mind, ask yourself, “is the above list of qualities how my team would describe me?” If so, that’s awesome! You probably have a great work environment where people feel loved and engaged. If the answer is no to one or all of them, that’s also great because you now have a road map to becoming a loving boss.

Love is the last of the Engager Dynamics because it is the foundation of them all. Love informs and infuses each of the others making them genuine and giving them their power to engage people and change the workplace. Love changes things. People often act certain ways because of how they feel. Interestingly, you can also begin to feel certain ways because of how you act. This is especially true of love. When you behave in a loving way, the brotherly affection begins to grow and that’s the best kind of working environment.

Making it a Habit

So, if your answer to the Stephen Covey question was, “No,” what do you do? Pick one quality from the list that you really want people to know you for and start there. Let’s use “Respectful” for example.

The Description of Respectful says “treating others as important people.” Who are the important people in your life and how do you treat them? Is it a spouse, child, parent. boss, official? What is it about the way you behave toward them that lets you know they’re important to you? Is it your words, your body language, your level of patience? What do you not want to communicate to them with any of those expressions?

Now think about each person on your team. What do they contribute to the team? More than that, to whom are they important in their lives? Do they have family and friends that care about them. Imagine them outside work with those people. How do you think they treat your team member? Imagine yourself as one of them.

These exercises help with the mindset that will enable you to show respectfulness. Now something practical; I love working around veterans and people who were raised in certain parts of the country. They consistently say, “Sir” and “Ma’am” when they address you. It may be too obviously awkward for you to start saying, “Sir” and “Ma’am” when speaking out loud to your team. Try saying it in your mind when you speak to your people. See what changes in your attitude.

One other way to show respectfulness is to stop interrupting people when they talk. Most of us do it. It is not very respectful. Focus on waiting until the other person is completely done with what they want to say before you speak. People will become more relaxed and open with you because they will feel more respected.

Love is the key that unlocks all the Engager Dynamics. Work your way through the list above, developing each of those qualities, and you will have created a loving environment. If you can do that, you will transform your workplace.

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