‘Love’ is a word we don’t normally associate with entrepreneurship, apart from though the old adage ‘love what you do’. What I am talking about here is love based on warmth, affection, valuing and connection to those that you engage with daily. This applies whether you are a solo entrepreneur or running a large business. When I mention love in this context, think compassion, not passion! We’re talking caring, bonding, small kindnesses and concern for others over our own needs.
Why is it so important for an entrepreneur to demonstrate love?
The outcomes of doing so, will make your entrepreneurial journey so much more enjoyable and successful. If people who work for you genuinely believe that you love them, then they will feel more valued and will go that extra mile for you. When you ask employees to work over the weekend, for no pay, because cash flow is tight, and you have a client that needs as job delivered by Monday morning, then they are more likely to do it if they feel they are valued. If you support and love your staff, or your suppliers or your customers, during the difficult then they will be more loyal.
As Clarence Francis, Chairman of General Foods in the 1940s, acknowledged:
You can buy a man’s life, you can buy a man’s physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm; you cannot buy initiative; you cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds and souls. You have to earn these things.
As an entrepreneur, if you only emphasize your skill, capability and talents to all around you then, unfortunately, I think that is the wrong approach. Why? Well, it’s simple really. When the people you work with decide whom to respect, trust and follow, they will not, in the long term, judge you entirely based on how strong you are (your skill, capability or competence). Rather, they will also ‘look’ at how lovable you are – do they see someone they trust, who is warm and gives them a sense of value about who they are as an individual? If they do, then your chances of real, sustainable success as an entrepreneur will increase significantly.
Every month, I have coffee and a catch-up with a very good friend, Gavin, who is the co-founder of a consultancy, Value the Person International that promotes this belief. He went on to tell me how his beliefs about experiences of being valued had been affirmed by one of the world’s largest research projects into employee engagement, run by Gallup.
Gallup’s most recent report on this subject is titled State of the American Workplace. Gallup interviewed hundreds of thousands of workers in the US over a three-year period about how they feel about their jobs. The key finding was that only 30% of these employees were fully engaged in their jobs – in other words, less than a third liked what they did and felt valued! The rest either felt disengaged or actively were disengaged from their jobs.
The research is based on what Gallup calls the Gallup Q12. These questions measure the climate of a workplace, employees’ perceptions of what they get in terms of direction and resources, what they can give in terms of using their strengths and how they are valued, whether they have a sense of belonging and whether they are growing.
These are the 12 questions:
- Do I know what is expected of me at work?
- Do I have the right materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
- At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
- In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
- Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seen to care about me as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
- At work, do my opinions seem to count?
- Does the mission / purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
- Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
- Do I have a best friend at work?
- In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
- This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
Gavin explained that all the evidence shows that those companies – small or large – that score very highly on the Gallup Q12 will do better, in all areas, as companies and that the people who work there will feel valued and loved, and will enjoy their jobs
As we continued our discussion, I strongly felt the need for an additional 13th question that would apply only to CEOs and people in leadership positions:
- What is the name of the person who cleans your office?
There is no empirical evidence that knowing the name of your cleaner will make you a better entrepreneur, but my intuition tells me it will. You see, I think that, as an entrepreneur, if you really want success, then you need to create an environment in which the people who work for you, and the clients you work for, sense a feeling of value and love oozing out of you. Knowing the name of your cleaner, and a bit about their life, shows in a small way that you value everyone who works with you. For me, the best entrepreneurs are those who can inspire, not only through their belief, purposes and values, but also through their kindness, flexibility, support and empowerment. When you treat people with love they never forget and, as a result, you develop people who want to work with you because you care. In this way, strong bonds are formed, and trust is established, and you will be seen as an entrepreneur people really love. Don’t underestimate the power of that!