Values of a Great Team: LOVE
In my last article I described one of the core values of a great team: fun. Having fun with each other and with our customers makes a tremendous impact on our culture as well as the level of customer service we offer. Today, I will discuss the next value in this series: Love.
Love is an uncommon word to use in relation to organizational leadership. But I think love is exactly what is needed.
Sometimes I tell the people I work with, “I love you.” I even tell some of my patients, “I love you.” I use discernment and discretion and always seek to be appropriate. It has never gotten me into trouble, although I have received a few strange looks when someone is new to our team.
But love is more than words. Here are a few points to be clear on regarding love and some instructions on how you can share it with your team.
Love Just Because
Love means caring for someone’s wellbeing. But here’s the catch: we must care unselfishly. Not for some kind of personal gain; not so we can transform them into better team members or repeat customers; not even to be cared for in return. Love in its purest form should not be practiced for the perks we get from caring for someone else. I believe love is best expressed when we care for others just because it is the right thing to do. Love, just because.
As leaders, when we truly care for our people just because, we will have the greatest opportunity to touch their hearts. When we care about our customers (or, patients in my case) just because, we will have the greatest opportunity to change their lives. And in the context of a team, when love is practiced with one another—when we truly care about each other’s wellbeing—we have the greatest potential for unity.
One of the founders of the Ritz Carlton, an organization known for its superb customer service, said that at the end of the day customers ask one question. It is: Do they care about me? A simple question, that when answered in the affirmative, seals a customer’s loyalty to your organization. As customers, when we feel cared for as an individual, we tend to go back. When we think our leaders care about us as individuals, we tend to follow them.
Love with Boundaries
Love must have boundaries. I don’t mean love must be restrained. We must care as much as possible. But boundaries are a healthy part of love. In fact, without boundaries, love cannot work. So then, what are boundaries? And what do they do?
Boundaries are lines that we get to define for ourselves, in order to protect ourselves and what is sacred to us. Why do I say love without boundaries cannot work? Because sometimes when you care about someone, they can hurt you or disregard your personal boundaries, usually unintentionally. If you are unable or unwilling to express and protect your boundaries, damage to the relationship occurs. You will often end up feeling abused, resentful, or ready to retaliate. In some cases, you may even exit the relationship altogether. Many times your ability to truly care begins to diminish. Without boundaries, your love for others is susceptible to erosion, or even ending.
You don’t have to enforce your boundaries by being aggressive or rude. Defend your boundaries gently, but clearly. Most people will get it. What about those who don’t? Well, I am not a proponent of lowering my standards to defend my boundaries. I simply ask them to leave my circle. Most people back off when we draw boundaries. If you’d like to read more on that, I invite you to read one of my previous articles on setting boundaries.
I want to encourage you to grow and train your team to generously love others. Many are hesitant to care because they confuse love with letting people run all over them. Don’t be afraid. Just follow this simple rule: Love generously, but don’t abandon your boundaries. Confidently set your boundaries, as you remain in love.
Love the Unlovable
I recently had to let a member of our team go. On the way to work that morning, my prayer was, “Lord, give me Your love for that person.” Can you love someone but still fire them? Of course. Can a parent love a child, but still discipline them? Absolutely.
In Matthew 5, Jesus instructs us: Love your enemies. In other words, we are to love the unlovable. You know you are practicing love well when you care about those who are difficult to love.
Can we have love on our teams? I believe we can. When we talk about love as a team value, we imagine hugs, and smiles, and singing Kumbaya. But that is not where true love is manifested. True love appears in our responses to others’ shortcomings.
We must practice love daily. We must be intentional to increase our capacity to care for everyone around us.
Actionable step: Talk to your team about these points related to love. Talk about love often. Be intentional, as a leader, to make it a part of your team’s vocabulary and culture.
About me: I used to play piano at banquets and weddings as a teenager to make extra money.
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