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Beset by hearts and flowers in the run up to the commercialised day of love, we at White Water Group started to consider what love had to do with leadership. The work of a leader can sometimes make them feel particularly unloved, and loneliness is something we see in our clients. Working long hours, close relationships outside the business can suffer, communication reduces and isolation occurs. At work, the leader may show concern for his or her people but can feel that there is no-one looking out for them. So why is love, in its many forms, so important? From infancy, humans work to develop early attachments, which will guarantee a greater chance of survival and will determine future health and security. People then spend the rest of their lives looking for love in one place or another. The emotion is often packaged up and reserved for a very small group of people. Yet, we know that being close to other people can immunise against depression, enhance well being and, if people feel they have friends at work, ensure engagement. Psychologists who live to quantify everything human, tell us that the really important love triangle has 3 components. • Intimacy • Passion • Commitment Intimacy Working with a group of partners in a professional firm recently it became clear that they did not want to open up because their level of trust in each other was so low. Is that any way to do business? Our work now is to build trust and respect so that the intimate conversations that will move relationships and the business on, can occur. An all male group of bankers recognised that intimacy was one of their greatest challenges, blocking them from truly knowing how other people in the team functioned. Repeatedly, when anyone disclosed any real feeling they were met with jokes and banter, which ensured no deep conversation took place. Intimacy feels risky, but is a very powerful relationship tool. It is deeply satisfying to know that someone really knows you, understands you and somehow still likes you. Do you look into the eyes of your people and see their heart and soul? Passion With engagement figures still terribly low – the 2012 CIPD survey on engagement in the workplace’s headline figures were that only 38% are actively engaged at work and 59% are neutral, leaders have a challenge to stir up passion in their organisations. Are people marking time till retirement? Or at least calculating how much they have to save before they can leave? Being caught up and engaged leads to higher well being, greater satisfaction, happiness and lower anxiety – and, not surprisingly, higher productivity at work. Do you stir up people’s passion for you as a leader, for the strategies you are introducing, for the customer and shareholder or for the company itself? Commitment You have taken vows together. Commitment cuts both ways. This can be the less sexy side of the triangle and can smack of duty and possible loss of excitement especially if the burden feels uneven. The upside of commitment is the great comfort of belonging, knowing that you are in this together and believing that you have something worth seeing through. It’s always worth the celebration afterwards as well, or the: ‘look what we achieved together when the going got tough’. Do you work to strengthen the mutual commitment that binds adults together for a common purpose? This Valentine’s Day we exhort you to feel the love. While we know you won’t take that as a licence for dodgy behaviour, you can either give everyone a chocolate heart and they’ll know you care (at least today) or you can go deeper and bind them to you with bonds of love. In the words of an early leadership guru to the Corinthians:

Love is patient

Love is kind

It does not envy,

It does not boast

Love is not proud

It is not rude

It is not self -seeking

It is not easily angered,

Love keeps no record of wrongs

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth,

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

Love never fails

We’d love to hear from you!