Sunday, November 07, 2010

Managing with love is the way to build trust

Love in the workplace? Forbidden! In these days of mandated sexual harassment training, we are constantly warned to keep our even mildly lascivious thoughts and emails, not to mention our hands, to ourselves. But, human nature may trump the law. I make it a practice to hug everyone who works for me and most of those who work around me, both males and females. Read More […]
Managing with love is the way to build trust. It's a no-brainer. So why do so few companies do this? The autocratic "manage with fear" model is what business began with hundreds of years ago when managers whipped employees literally and figuratively to compel them to work. In modern businesses with skilled and empowered employees, the top-down approach is slowly starting to fade away. The open-door policy is replacing the executive suite. For example, my university built me a new lab last year and the builder wanted to know where my office would be. I said I didn't want one. I prefer to embed myself with my team because we work together on projects. Why would I want to separate myself from those I collaborate with?
There is a growing number of successful companies that manage with love. Southwest Airlines is an example: their corporate slogan is "How do we love you? Let us count the ways . ." In fact, their stock ticker symbol is LUV so this is a big part of their corporate identity. (Southwest's first flights came out of Dallas's Love Field so this may have given them the idea). If you have flown Southwest, you know that their employees love working for them. Southwest Airlines has never laid off an employee. Southwest's CEO Gary Kelly was paid $903,000 in 2009, and half of that was a one-time bonus. Compare that to former GM CEO Rick Wagoner who was paid more than 14 million dollars the year before GM went belly-up.
My research shows that the molecule of love, oxytocin, makes us trustworthy and motivates us to help others. Most managers would sacrifice a limb if their employees embodied these virtues at work.
All it takes is love.
Paul J. Zak is a neuroeconomist at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA.  His book The Moral Molecule will be published in 2012. more... [12:17 PM]

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