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“Life, Work, Play and Love”

The Top 5 Business Words

I have a bit of a problem with the fifth suggestion to be part of my list of the top five business words. When I was drafting the list I actually wrote down the word ‘care’ and I envisioned a lot of negative feedback about that word, but in my head, and in my experience, to make things work we have to care. We have to care for the job that we do. We have to care for the customers we serve. We have to care about the level and type of service that we provide. We have to care for the people who work with us. We have to care. I was prepared to stick with the word and argue the point although I felt that it might be too ‘touchy feely’ to gain much support. There seems to be some negative connotations about sentiment and emotion in business.


But the more I thought about it I began to better understand the importance of emotion. Nothing great was ever created without passion. I interview lots of business leaders and I can get a pretty good idea of whether they are going to be able to get to the level they desire and that judgement is based largely upon how much they care. Everyone wants to do better, but not everyone cares enough about doing better to put up with the pain and discomfort required to do different things, some of which wont work, in order to actually become better. Then I quoted John Eades in my last leadership seminar. This is the quote I used “The most important job of a leader today is to elevate others. In order to elevate others, leaders need to use high levels of love and discipline.” I was embarrassed to use the word love in a business context. But the sentence is absolutely bang on. We do need to use high levels of love and discipline. Caring is too weak. Caring is too generic. Caring is too mundane. We need to truly love our people in order to be able to really give them everything they need to be the best they can be and for us to be able to give them the best that we have.

Great leadership

And then I realised that there is no point being coy. I am doing you a disservice to use a euphemism like care when what I really mean is love. As your coach, if I really love and believe in you why would I ever try to short change you with a euphemism like care when the word is love. We have to love the job that we do. We have to love the customers we serve. We have to love providing the right level and type of service. We have to love the people who work with us. We have to love. And in case you think there is anything soft about this let me just let you know what John Byrne said about Jack Welch, the great leadership icon of the 20th century who died this week. “What struck me most about Jack was his extraordinary ability to show both unrelenting toughness and sincere affection for the people in his orbit—often at the same moment,” and just try applying extreme love and discipline simultaneously and then tell me that it is a ‘soft’ skill. Remember what Steven Covey said, “When life, work, play and love all revolve around the same thing, you’ve got passion” and we all know that nothing great in the world was accomplished without passion.