by Steve Foran, P. ENG, CSP, MBA
Valentine's day is a time for love. Typically, we think of February 14th as reserved for a special romantic relationship. But love doesn’t stop there.
What about love for the colleagues you work with, love for the clients you serve, love for the venders who support you ? While love at work may sound odd, it shouldn’t. We practiced this type of love in grade school every February as we shared Valentines with our classmates and teacher.
Have you ever wondered why so many of us are so hesitant when it comes to the L word at work ? In English we have just one word for love and it has many meanings. On the other hand, the Greeks have several words for love. Four of the most common Greek words for love are:
Eros - romantic love
Philia - love of friends
Storge - love towards children by parents
Agape - love of humanity
It’s quite natural to quickly get tripped up by the word love because our default definition often equates to eros. Understanding there’s more than just eros can help us get over any hang-ups about using the L word.
More importantly at work, we need to focus on philia. Philia is not only based on feelings—it is a type of love rooted in connection or shared values or common goals. It is a selfless love that encourages goodwill, connection, friendship and it ultimately helps bring out the best in humanity. This seems like an ideal characteristic to cultivate at work.
Two constants related to human performance
There are two critical facts about human nature that every leader and manager must know and use to shape how they manage and lead.
1. Consistently, one of the top two reasons people leave their jobs is they feel unappreciated.
2. To bring their best selves to work, one of the primary beliefs people need met is their belief they are socially valued by others. Everyone needs to know that "someone" genuinely cares for them as a person. And if you have direct reports, their "someone" is you !
Philia addresses both head on. So how do you tell someone you love them without having to say "I love you" ?
Look no further than gratitude. Yes, gratitude, the simple recognition of benefits received from others. When you experience gratitude and express your gratitude to others you help people feel more appreciated and socially valued. You build connection and strengthen relationships. Bottom line, your gratitude is a direct expression of philia.
If you want to show your love at work and elevate your culture in the process, tap into the power of grateful leadership. It’s simple, doesn’t cost anything and takes very little time. This 15-minute exercise will be a game-changer for you and those you work with:
divide a sheet of paper into three columns
in the first column make a list of 5 benefits you enjoy at work. For example, it could be tangible like a comfortable office or more intangible like flexibility or the people you get to work with
in the second column and next to each benefit, identify and attribute that benefit to a person or persons or group of people
in the third column and next to each person, note what they did to bring about that benefit
now seek out each person and express your gratitude to them. Call, write, walk down the hall, whatever—and tell them. If you’re unable to connect with the person you’re grateful for, then pay your thanks forward to someone else.
To ensure they don’t miss including anyone on their team, I’ve seen leaders begin this exercise by writing each person's name in the second column and completing the exercise from there.
When you do this exercise, there are two principles that must be followed:
1. Be genuine. If you’re not genuine, they'll sniff it out in a second.
2. Expect nothing in return. It’s nice if you get something back but remember, expressing gratitude is your way of saying thank you.
Based on your experience, I know you’re going to want to encourage others in your organization to do this exercise as well. If you want more ideas on building a high-performing, people-first culture of excellence, check out our playbook for more gratitude at work. <<https://www.gratitudeatwork.ca/resources#gratitude-playbook>>
Steve Foran, P. ENG, CSP, MBA
Phone: (902) 802-8494 www.gratitudeatwork.ca
My dream is one billion happier people.
While not the typical career path of an Electrical Engineer, I began exploring the notion of gratitude in a professional capacity during my MBA. In my research, I hosted many conversations in my community and discovered the existence of a gratitude gap in the workplace. From this discovery, I founded Gratitude at Work back in 2007 which has since developed into the multifaceted program that it is today.
While my kids like to tease me about my mid-life crisis as I switched professions and speaking centre stage, I see these disciplines as one and the same. Just as in engineering, with Gratitude at Work, I get to uncover the mechanics of a happy and productive workplace and figure out how to make any professional setting run at peak performance. I have been privileged to work with executives from around the world making lasting shifts in company cultures and helping their teams be happier and more productive at work.
My ultimate goal is to reach as many people as possible as I truly believe that gratitude opens the door to living a happier more fulfilled life and greater solidarity among humankind.
When not on stage, I’m a son, brother, supportive husband, loving father and relatively newly minted grandfather. I’m proud to be a lifelong resident of Halifax, Nova Scotia doing my part to make my home a better place to live and work. I’m grateful for my family, my community and the opportunity I have been given to do this work. So thank you!! PROUD ACHIEVEMENTS
Surviving to Thriving - The 10 Laws of Grateful Leadership
The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley ranked my book as 1 of 8 recommended summer reads in 2019. It was also named in INC. as 1 of 5 positive psychology books to read for a happier 2019
In 2019, I was an inaugural winner of Canada's CEO Trusted Advisor Awards Program
In 2017, together with 42 other top-rated speakers from around the world, I was awarded the gold standard of professional speaking - CSP™
Peak Benefit Solutions Inc. was established in 2008 and have helped more than 400 clients from entrepreneurs, manufacturing, professional services and public organizations with their comprehensive benefits planning. Every step of the way, we are with you.