Friday, February 04, 2005

LOVE and WORK in the same sentence?

Are our companies focusing on their external as well as their internal customers (employees) with the spirit of love or holding them hostage by fear?

Think about a company run by the spirit of fear. Every day we would be worried that co-workers are talking about us, that competition will gobble us up, that we can't come up with a new idea because it might not work. To use a basketball analogy (I can't help it!), we're playing not to lose instead of playing to win.

Now think about a company run by the spirit of love. Wait a second ... that might be pushing the envelope.

Is there a place for love in the world of work?

Tim Sanders, chief solutions officer at Yahoo, thinks so. He wrote a book called Love Is The Killer App. It's not a new book, but that doesn't diminish its importance. For an overview, read this article in the February 2002 Fast Company magazine. Here's a preview:
The most powerful force in business isn't greed, fear, or even the raw energy of unbridled competition. The most powerful force in business is love. It's what will help your company grow and become stronger. It's what will propel your career forward. It's what will give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your work, which will help you do your best work.

Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, thinks so. Herb believed that a company can be run either by fear or by love, and it's obvious which he chose. Southwest Airlines was founded in 1971, beginning its operations from Love Field in Dallas. The stock ticker for Southwest Airlines isn't SWA, as you might expect, but LUV. The Southwest logo includes a heart with wings. The day they hold their corporate annual meeting is February 14 - Valentine's Day.

So who can argue with companies like Southwest Airlines and Yahoo? Then there's Wegman's, the 89-year-old grocery store chain based in Rochester, New York, last year's top company to work for, according to the Forbes Magazine Top 100 Companies to Work For list. A 19-year-old student and part-time Wegman's employee summed up her feelings about her job: "I love this place," she tells a visitor. "If teaching doesn't work out, I would so totally work at Wegmans."

So how, exactly, should we define LOVE as it pertains to work? Scott Peck, in The Road Less Traveled, defined love as "The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's personal growth." In his book, On Caring , Milton Mayeroff defines love as "the selfless promotion of the growth of the other."

So, is it possible to utter the words "LOVE" and "WORK" in the same sentence? Can those two concepts co-exist?

I'm betting my career on it.


At 4:48 PM, Blogger Christopher Bailey said...

Hi Jodee, just posted a follow up to your question at Thanks for the good, thought-provoking blog.


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