LEADERSHIP.  On the way to school today, I asked Wyatt (my 6yo son, pictured below as “Batmanta Claus”) what I should write about today.  His answer:  “Probably about loving each other.”

So why do I say we need more leadership?

In conversations with people around the world about what makes a great employer, the answers have always pointed to the same occurrence: a leader who helped in an unexpected way, usually in a time of need:

  • One person spoke about how a leader gave her an extra $10,000 an unlimited, paid time off to deal with a medical event.
  • Another shared how, when she lost a family member, a leader shared their condolences and immediately said, “take all the time you need,” with no questions asked.
  • There’s a story of a family in need who were given housing when they could not find any they could afford in the employer’s area.
  • One brave leader saw an employee sleeping in their car and immediately raised wages across the board and started a program to make sure all employees had at least 10% net disposable income (10% more income than expenses every month) and is on a mission to get to 20%.
  • A black man shared his story of an employer that was intentional about helping people of color advance and be included in key strategic decisions in the organization. (It’s too bad that this is an exception)
  • Another organization added gender confirmation surgery to their benefits when their CHRO discovered that one employee voiced their struggle.

In all of these examples, leaders had the courage to make decisions that opened them to criticism and may have seemed to reduce profits.  All of them had the courage to help people who were vulnerable and dealing with intensely emotional issues.  And while every one of these leaders may have added critics or faced questions about profitability, it is certain that they all added allies—employees who would trust them forever.

A recent study asked for the most important reason an individual would recommend their organization as a place to work:

  • 5% said “Income Satisfaction”
  • 7% said “Socio-demographics/Firmographics”
  • 13% said “Work Conditions”
  • 21% said “Purpose & Common Values”
  • 54% said “Trust at Work”

Leaders who have the courage to step up and help those in need, to help empower people and give them comfort in times of crisis, who care not just about performance but also about individual well-being and success—THAT is what we need more of RIGHT NOW.  That builds trust.  And that’s awfully close to the definition of another “L” word…

Yes, it can be scary to use the word “love” at work.  But that’s really what great leadership is all about.  The definition of love (and leadership) we need more of in business: “to cultivate with care and affection; NURTURE.”

Leaders today need to have the courage to listen and learn about the messy, emotional challenges facing their people.  Then, help them overcome those barriers and give them the opportunity and resources to heal.  And watch as these trust-building acts yield a huge ROI on the time and money spent, helping you not only be a better leader, but increase profit and retain top talent as well.