[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserveres.
-1 Corinthians 13:7
What role does love play in business? One part often overlooked is the beginning of verse 7. “it always protects,” Sound counsel for those of us wishing to lead. A wise business man once taught me a lesson in the importance of intangibles in business. Protection, one of them, I learned is very important.
Have you ever asked for something you thought quite reasonable at an establishment only to have an employee say something of the sort “There is nothing I can do for you.”? I’ve asked this question of several people and most everyone has agreed that, yes they have. It may vary a bit, “that is the policy” or “the rules keep me from whatever” but all the same, it is there. And I have come to believe that the root of the issue is a lack of protection. I think, if I am not mistaken, it illuminates a lack of leadership. Leaders of course are called to love. And as we have learned; love protects.
When we hear these responses, and often see the frustration on even their faces, I have come to believe what they are really saying is “I am not protected.” They go on, “you see we have these rules, and if I step outside them, I am not protected. So, therefore, I can not so and so to help you.”
People want protection and they will fabricate it when it is not provided them. What other forms of protection have our teammates created to rely on when we do not protect them? Collecting a string of emails perhaps, when what was really needed was a hard conversation with a client. Or holding back their experiences, when what was really needed was the truth in a meeting. Do your teammates feel protected? If not, what is it costing everyone you are leading?
A quick stop on leadership. Leaders who have authority are, I think, more effective leaders. Still, I do not believe that one needs authority to lead. Is there a lack of protection on your team? Step in and provide it. Lead. A rather animal example but a good one I hope is afforded us from the wolf pack. There is no committee. No vote is taken up to determine the alpha. The alpha is, or perhaps became the alpha, unless I am mistaken, because when danger arose, they went and dealt with it. They provided protection.
But what of the rules, the policies? How will we get on? Policies and rules seem to me to be put in place when there is a lack of trust. When a leader can not trust a team member they place their trust in a set of rules. Let’s think about what this is costing us. I once heard the founder of redbox talk about having this very experience in a Blockbuster long before the idea for redbox ever crossed his mind. “I am sorry but I am not authorized to help you”. At that moment, a spark lit, he thought to himself ‘there has to be a better way’. Interesting. That seemed to cost them the lot.
Trust enables. It empowers. Rules and policies of the variety we are talking seem to do the opposite. They seem to create robot employees that leave our customers frustrated as though they were dealing with a sort of automated phone tree that does not work. By the way the very next part of verse 7: “[love] always trusts”, interesting.
What policies have you lobbied, even put in place? Do you think this is the best way to protect your teammates or could it be that it is your way of protecting yourself? Is it really working, or is it costing you? Verse 5 “it is not self-seeking”, interesting.
Does your business, does your team, need a big dose of love, of protection?
-A takeaway from an internrocket.com meeting with Arnold Lovin
As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.