Love as a competitive advantage

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By Stephane Leblanc, Founder and CEO, International Centre for Conscious Leadership

Herb Kelleher, the founder Southwest airlines said: A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear.

In my 30 years of experience as a senior executive, I have also embraced the fact that love is a competitive advantage.

The psychologist Carl Jung said that there are only two basic emotions in life, love and fear. Love expands. Fear contracts. All positive emotions come from love. All negative emotions come from fear. Love is from the soul. Fear is from the ego.

Unfortunately, many organizations are led from fear as the leaders lead with their brain and focus on KPI’s , results and profits and they forget that those they lead are humans with emotions, families and aspirations. In this extremely competitive market, many leaders will often do whatever it takes to achieve the expected results, often sacrificing their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those they lead. They will also often take every dollar possible from their clients. This often creates an environment of fear, mistrust, disengagement where there is a big loss of creativity, empowerment and a lack of fulfilment.

Seven years ago, I was asked to lead a large business unit in a large manufacturing company. This business unit had lost a total of 250M$ since it was launched 10 years before and lost 50M$ the year before I joined as its leader. Before me, eight Vice Presidents had lost their jobs trying to turnaround this business unit. Two and half years later I joined, we turned a profit of 50M$ and we improved all KPI's significantly most notably, employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

When people asked me what I did, my answer is simple: I loved my people more than anyone had love them before.

We did all the usual things a leadership team would to make a successful turnaround. We make some changes to our leadership team. We improved our key processes. We implemented a 3 year vision based on core values. But our real competitive advantage was love.

I showed love to my executive team by building an environment of trust and caring with them and by being committed to their development so they could achieve their full potential and step into their greatness. I encouraged them to do the same with their leaders and employees.

We also implemented a very robust customer care process that allowed us to treat all customers with utmost respect and show them we cared about them as humans and about their needs.

When I left that organization 3 years later, many leaders and employees came to thank me for investing so much in them and said they were deeply touched that a senior leader would care so much about their well-being and their development.

To me being a loving leader is common sense as you only get back from people what you give to them and by giving love to our leaders and employees, we get love in return. When employees love us, they produce quality products on time and provide amazing experiences to the customers.

Its all about giving and giving starts with how you serve those who work inside your organization, and then radiates out to others you serve as part of your mission. How you treat your employees is an important sign of how you treat everyone else in your business and in your life. If you can get it right here, you can get it right with your customers, your clients, your stakeholders.

Love is a competitive advantage.

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