Many of us as business leaders and CEO’s are highly invested in our businesses because we care about what we do. It is therefore natural to feel stressed when things don’t go well. However, when this type of stress is ongoing and gets worse over time, the impact it has on our health and relationships can be devastating.
What’s worse is that for many of us work related stress is a silent killer. It sneaks up on us. We don’t realize what a rut we’re in until it’s too late and one of the main reasons for this is that the bad habits and behaviors that lead to life-changing events such as death, divorce and illness have become normalized.
The modern workplace has become a breeding ground for bad habits leading to poor health and well-being for leaders, executives and employees alike. Some of the main issues are high stress/high conflict environments, micromanaging executives, unreasonably long work hours, a tendency to work after hours and work-related stress seeping into personal relationships.
Tightly controlled environments can lend to a lack of transparency which leads to a lack of trust. These types of unnecessarily controlling environments typically will create higher levels of stress on those who are a part of it.
These symptoms can be traced back to of a lack of love on an individual level. When there is a lack of self-love and self-care at the leadership level it translates to a harsh working culture where management and employees experience intolerably high levels of stress. One of the premises of LQ is that you start from a place of self-care and self-love. When you focus on taking care of you, you naturally take care of others. Thus the problems described above typically won’t show up in organizations where people have high love quotients.
In the eye-opening book Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—and What We Can Do about It Stanford Professor, Jeffrey Pfeffer calls out Corporate America on the unprecedented number of deaths resulting from workplace related stress. Pfeffer is no lightweight. As a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business he has forty years of experience, has written fifteen books and has been called a rigorous thinker.
In the next section we discuss how developing one’s LQ addresses the detrimental impact of unhealthy workplace practices.
How does LQ address this problem?
Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and stroke, many of which result from stress are on the rise and because people are exposed to intolerable levels of stress, this results in more illness and a greater number of fatalities. Pfeffer refers to these deaths as excess deaths i.e. people who die at an unusually young age of stress-related illnesses.
When you as the leader of an organization raise your love quotient it can have a positive impact on the corporate culture within an organization and may even help deter some of the harmful modern day work practices which can lead to illness or death.
A corporation is built from the values embodied by the founder and/or developed and maintained by the existing leadership. If we as leaders start from a place of self-care and self-love a lot of these challenges won’t even come up as issues. If you as a CEO take care of your health, make time to exercise, have good habits and balance your personal and professional life you will want the same for your employees and team.
Excess deaths are attributed to job insecurity, micromanaging bosses, impossible hours and unreasonable demands among others. As a high LQ leader you will prioritize the physical, mental and emotional health of your people and be more sensitive to issues that matter to them. You will have an inclination towards fairness regarding working hours, compensation and job security. You will also create an environment where employees are encouraged to treat one another with respect and dignity.
In this way LQ gets to the core of the issue and addresses it at the source.
High LQ Leaders Should Encourage Change at All Levels
As a high LQ leader you will ask “How am I treating myself along the way of growing a great business and creating profit?” As a CEO or business owner you will look at things in a much more balanced and holistic way. Having taken care of your own needs you will have a deep understanding of what drives your team. You will have a clear vision and mission and you will have communicated these in a way that your team understands and can get behind. Team engagement will therefore be higher.
When we as CEOs and founders are kinder to ourselves, we become more aware of how we are treating people in our organizations. If we as leaders treat ourselves better, then there will be a greater sensitivity to the various behaviors and issues that create an unhealthy working environment. As High LQ leaders we will introduce policies to address those issues and behaviors.
The health and performance of the executive team is often just as important to the organization’s bottom line as that of the CEO. As leaders we should encourage our executive team members and employees to begin the internal work of raising their individual LQs as this will impact the organization’s collective LQ.
In this interview, Chris Brown, President of Trident Design shared with us his experience with introducing LQ “As I was going through the weeks of practicing these exercises in the framework, I started showing up more powerful, more engaging, lighting up the rest of the team in ways that weren’t present before.” This is a great example of an executive team member who adopted the ‘I love you’ practice to raise his LQ triggering a culture shift within the organization he worked for.
Each brave individual who raises their LQ will contribute to the culture change required to address the harmful habits plaguing the modern workplace.
A Heart Centered Approach and Profitability
Studies such as those conducted by Pfeffer and his colleagues show that poor working conditions lead to higher costs and lower productivity which not only impact a company’s bottom line but have a far-reaching socio-economic impact.
In his book Pfeffer references the work of his peers using existing research to highlight some shocking statistics. For example:
· Workplace stress is the 5th leading cause of unnatural death in the United States
· Workplace conditions result in 120,000 excess deaths per year in the US alone
· The workplace is responsible for up to $300 Billion or 8% of annual health care costs
There are also numerous studies that show that after a certain number of hours a person stops being as productive as they could be.
We agree with the initiatives proposed by Pfeffer such as; giving employees more flexibility in how they manage their jobs, fairness in terms of how compensation and benefits are structured and not requiring or having an unspoken expectation that employees work unreasonably long hours and that they be available after hours. These, together with employee wellness are great initiatives to implement. When these initiatives are implemented from a place of wanting to be more kind to ourselves and taking care of our teams, they have a deeper impact than if just implemented for profit’s sake.
While we understand that a business’ main aim is to make a profit and that your responsibility as a CEO is to ensure your business’ growth and success, we would like to point out that it does not have to be an either/or situation. There is room for both high LQ leadership and profitability, in-fact where LQ is higher, there is a greater opportunity for profitability to be stronger.
When we as leaders embrace being kind to ourselves the shift from lose-lose or lose-win to win-win can be achieved. When we are treating ourselves kindly, taking care of our minds and bodies, and nourishing ourselves through healthy relationships while creating a successful and profitable company, work becomes a pleasure. It actually feels good to be doing what you are doing.
Creating a High LQ Workplace
While the corporate culture within many working environments around the world has been shown to be a contributing factor to chronic stress, the early onset of illness and damage to personal relationships, we as leaders have the opportunity to bring healing change to our organizations through high LQ leadership.
We as owners and CEOs do not have to sacrifice ourselves to make a profit. I firmly believe that as more leaders adopt a kinder and more loving attitude towards themselves and others, and the workplace evolution we are encouraging gets measured, we’ll find that companies who embrace LQ will have greater profitability than companies who don’t.
LQ is the path to greater internal satisfaction and financial success for everyone in the organization.