I attended a meeting recently where we discussed important aspects of values-based leadership. Those values included honesty, integrity, environmental sustainability, financial transparency, ethical supply chains, and employee wellbeing. I suggested that one of the values could be love. Everyone agreed with the sentiment but thought that love might be out of context in business speak. I disagree. 

With the values-based movement, we have the opportunity to create something special. We are all aware that just fiddling with the fringes, or rearranging the furniture, will not make any significant difference and certainly won’t reshape the world into a more just, fair, equal, and sustainable place. Radical change is needed to produce radical results.  

Everyone appreciates a good core value which helps to form the present and aspirational culture of your business. It is also good when those values are verbs, active, doing words. What if the radical change you instilled, no matter your industry, was choosing Love as a core value? What would change for you and your business? 

People are your greatest resource, but for too long have been treated as a disposable resource. Love, in business, has been reserved for profit, while people were just a means to that end. What if that equation was reversed? What would it look like for you if the value of Loving People came first? How much would it cost you? How hard would it be to change your current culture? How would it impact your current bottom line? 

On the other hand, what would it save you? How would it make everything you do better? How much more would your business be aligned with your personal values? Should there be a difference anyway? 

Integrity as a value should be implicit in every business.

You shouldn’t have to name it specifically as naming it implies that if it wasn’t named, it might not happen. (Core values are words that set you apart, there’s no need to state the obvious!) Integrity, according to Google, is, “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” If you are a person of integrity, running businesses of integrity, your moral principles pervade the whole of your life. 

Most people would say that they are people who love. They love their families and friends. They want people to believe that they are kind and generous. They may even say that Love is one of their core values outside of work. They even give generously at church or to their local charity. However, if integrity is a virtue that by its nature pervades our whole being, shouldn’t that include our work as well? 

The Bible is full of stories and examples of the need to love and the power that love has to heal. “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31), “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you…” (Matthew 7:13) and “…Continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” Whether you are a Christian or not, these words help us to see what the very basics of human interaction should be, whatever the context. So, if you believe in the power of love in one area of your life, should it not be true in all areas? 

When we look at the triple bottom line of accounting – People, Planet, Profit – People comes first on purpose. People are your most valuable resource, so how will you show that you love them? 

In a recent social media post, Simon Sinek shared: 

100% of employees are people.  100% of customers are people.  100% of investors are people.  If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.

Every person longs to be loved. If your business can be a place where love is found, perhaps you will find that profit is there, but you’re building much more that a business; you’re building a sustainable community of like-minded people who together are forging a fairer, more just more equitable society for all. Rather than being skeptical of love as a business term, maybe it should be the first in our list of values? At least that is, until it becomes so normal that listing it no longer makes sense. You know, like integrity? 

This blog was first published on 4 March 2022 at https://www.christianaid.org.uk/news/love-your-people-and-they-will-love-you-back