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The “L” word

Love?I know what you’re thinking  — it’s not that “L” word but the other — LOVE — in the workplace.

If you’re like me your first reaction is — NO WAY.  You’re skeptical, you may get this feeling in your gut that makes you cringe. You’re thinking — love does not belong in the workplace, it’s personal, it belongs at home. You have a vision of people in loose, flowing clothes running around hugging each other. With flowers. And other stuff. (Ok, maybe that’s just me.)

But something made my critical mind pause.

The Pygmalion Effect

The Pygmalion Effect describes how people act in accordance to the expectations you have of them — whether these expectations are conscious or unconscious. If you think people are stupid, guess what? — they can read your mind and act that way. This effect has been demonstrated in the classroom, at home, and at work. (Related effect — the Galatea effect > the expectations we have of ourselves.) Furthermore, a positive mindset from a leader can produce powerful behavioral effects, even in the absence of auditory or visual contact (references below). Whether you are leading employees or students — your mindset matters. Call it good will, call it focusing on the positive — or simply call it love.

Appreciative Processes

Ever heard of Appreciative Inquiry? It’s a type of inquiry that envisions a future that focuses positive relationships and collaboration, building organizations based on what works rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. Appreciative Processes improve systems by amplifying what’s working — identifying what people do best.

Think about how we approach most work — FIX THE PROBLEM. Do a gap analysis. Figure out what people need to learn, figure out what mindsets we need to change, usually ending up with the question — how do we fix our PEOPLE?

Appreciative Processes combine the Demming approach with Appreciative Inquiry — figure out what processes  make a difference and use an appreciative mindset to bring out the best in people. Use Appreciative Leadership to create a culture of systemic change and continuous improvement.

Back to LOVE

Ok, so here we are — back at the idea of love in organizations. When we think about creating an environment that:

  • Focuses on what people and organizations do well
  • Focuses on strengths,
  • Allows people to do their best everyday
  • A place where people enjoy being and where they enjoy each other

That’s a organization that uses love.

If it makes you feel better to call it something else, go ahead do so. But just remember, you’re losing the energy of a very powerful word.

Just try this — go about your work constantly thinking — “I love this place, my work, and the people I work with.” Try it for just ONE day. See what difference it makes.

Learn More…

Posted in business, cognition, OD.

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5 Responses

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  1. Saqib Ali says

    What a timely post, Rani!!!

    Just this morning I was trying to remember the phenomenon wherein people act in accordance to the expectations you have of them. The Pygmalion Effect. If you treat people like children, they will act like children.

    So give me an example of Appreciative Inquiry.

  2. Rani H. Gill says

    Saqib –
    For an excellent example of Appreciative Inquiry, download the PDF from Busche – Appreciative Process.

    Off the top of my head –> say a company has poor morale. They convene a team of people to examine what areas of the company have good morale (looking at the bright spots), instead of focusing on what is going wrong. Look at what’s going right, what’s doing well, and leveraging those to the rest of the company. The very act of Appreciative Inquiry can often change the attitude and behavior of those touched by the process, sometimes resulting in the change you seek.

    Hope that helps.
    cheers, rani

  3. Roger Harrison says

    As one of the people referred to in this blog (the BAODN workshop and the paper, “Accessing the Power of Love in the Workplace”) I have to say that I’ve not yet seen anything that describes my point of view or my approach more eloquently than this—and that includes the announcements I’ve written for my own workshops! Thank you, Rani, very much!

    May I quote you?

  4. Rani H. Gill says

    Wow. Thank you! Yes, please quote away!

    cheers, rani

  5. Steve says

    Hi R –
    I was at a CLO Symposium conference in Florida last month. I believe it was Peter Senge who referenced ‘love’ as the ideal to aspire for in corporate environments. Works for me. No really – it does work for me. I have come at it not from specific workshops but from my own journey, I suppose, but I do very much try to do what you ask us all to try.

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