Love is just damn good business, according to Steve Farber.
Understanding the importance of love in any relationship is critical, but how can you help fellow leaders and team members operationalize this idea to benefit your business, your culture, and your organization’s overall health? This is just the kind of information that most (if not all) people are thinking but not too many are saying. That’s why we’re super excited about Steve Farber’s newest book, Love is Just Damn Good Business, and we’ve connected with Steve to share more about this idea.
Can you tell us a bit about your newest book, and what you hope readers will most gain from it?
The new book is Love Is Just Damn Good Business. I want readers to get the clear truth that’s in that title and then allow it to really change how they lead. The truth is that love is anything but abstract and soft. It is, in fact, a hardcore business principle that offers a significant strategic advantage. Readers will see why that is true, and they’ll learn how to operationalize love as a business principle.
What are some of the most common reactions you see and hear from leaders when you talk about love being at the center of doing good business?
It’s typically one of two things. For some, there’s a complete acceptance and exclamation of, I’m going to say, happiness, when they hear the principle message of the book. A lot of people feel like this is something they’ve always known but that nobody ever says. So they say, “Thank goodness somebody is finally talking about it!” The other response is more along the lines of raising an eyebrow and saying, “Really? What do you mean by that?” But surprisingly, I get very little flat-out rejection and resistance to the idea the way I did 10 or 20 years ago. In fact, I can’t remember the last time someone rolled their eyes, which is very contrary to the stereotype. It’s funny. Most people think that most people will think this is completely contrary to the way business works. But most people don’t think that way. Most people think other people think that way.
I love your LEAP model for Extreme Leadership (Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof). Can you tell us more about this and why it’s important for people to implement?
We’re not talking about love as a feeling or sentiment. Again, it’s something that needs to be operationalized. The LEAP framework is a way of taking a very powerful, universal human experience and making it concrete. So, love generates energy, love inspires audacity, and love requires proof. Now, we need to define each of those things to some degree. Energy is the enthusiasm—the juice—you bring to bear on the things you do. Audacity is a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints to change things for better. And proof is the results you get and the congruence between your words and your actions. So if there’s anything you’re trying to accomplish as a leader or as an organization, imagine if you could cultivate love among your team for that thing—that objective, product, or project. Imagine if you could generate the energy it takes for it to be a success, inspire people to be audacious in the pursuit of that, and then prove you’re making progress along the way. This applies to absolutely everything you can think of, and love is the driving force to make it happen.
You mention this in your book and I couldn’t agree more: “love provides a timeless competitive advantage.” Can you elaborate on this?
The business case for this all starts with the customer. Our competitive advantage comes from having customers who love our products or services. The only way to create love for a product or service in a meaningful and sustainable way over time is to create a culture in which our people love working. And the only way to create that type of culture is for me to first love the business, the people, the customers, and myself.
This is all about creating that type of experience for customers. That’s where the competitive advantage comes from. It’s something every business leader should know by now, and I think most leaders do know the importance of creating a great customer experience. The problem is that too many leaders leave out the other steps. They think all they have to do is push a button or print a banner and tell people to go be nice to the customer. But what it really requires is a full-on engagement that starts within ourselves, generates out to the culture of the team, and then—and only then—results in our customers loving us.
And, by the way, another competitive advantage comes from attracting and keeping the best possible talent. And we’re going to get the best talent by having a place where people want to work.
What’s your advice on helping new leaders develop a “personal approach” to leadership?
Be a student of everybody around you. Invest most of your time learning about all the people you work with, including customers. A big mistake many new leaders make is that they get so concerned about establishing their authority or credibility that they feel like they have to have the answers to everything. Instead, the attitude they should take is to spend time learning about people. They should ask questions like, who are these people I’m working with and now leading? What are their hopes, needs, aspirations, and stories? Where is their expertise? What can they teach me about their jobs? They should be a student of everyone around them.
In your mind, is it possible to change a leader who “loves what they get out of their work (success, power, etc.)” into a leader who “loves what they do”?
Sure, it’s possible. But I’d say this is not fundamentally about changing people’s nature. It’s about opening people up to a different way of thinking about how they lead, because they have been conditioned to think otherwise and not because they are bad people. Somebody who is really, truly motivated by their own gain and that is part of the core of who they are, I don’t know that they are going to change. But I don’t think that’s most people. I think that’s a small minority of people.
Any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with?
Again, it comes back to the title of the book. We live in a business environment that’s really challenging. It’s competitive. It’s fast-paced. It’s complex and dynamic. So it’s more important than ever to remember the importance of love and to actually operationalize it in our work. We have been conditioned to believe love has no place at work, and nothing could be further from the truth. We have the opportunity here to tap into something we already have within us and operationalize it in ways that will bring us more success than we ever thought possible. For me, that’s truly exciting.
President of Extreme Leadership, Inc., Steve Farber is also the founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, which works with organizations devoted to the cultivation and development of Extreme Leaders in the business community, non-profits and education. His third book, Greater Than Yourself: The Ultimate Lesson In Leadership, was a Wall Street Journal® and USA Today® bestseller. His second book, The Radical Edge: Stoke Your Business, Amp Your Life, and Change the World, was hailed as “a playbook for harnessing the power of the human spirit.” And his first book, The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership, is already considered a classic in the leadership field. It received Fast Company magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award and was named one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time. For more information about Steve, click here.
This post was written by Karlyn Hixson, Marketing Director at BookPal. She is currently reading Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal.