I spent an electrifying day at the Future of Leadership Salon in Duesseldorf last week. 60 visionary corporate leaders and change agents, eager to create more human workplaces. 6 invited thought-leaders. I was one of the 6. We co-generated some sweet conversation.

Think future, and it’s tempting to fixate on AI and robots and a digitalized world. I spoke of love. Yes, love.

Jack Ma, the fearless founder of Ali Baba, challenged the leaders of the future at this year’s Davos Economic Forum.

I believe if a person wants to be successful, Ma said, they should have a high EQ. If you don’t want to lose quickly you should have a high IQ. But if you want to be respected you should have a high LQ. That is the Q of love. 

Yes, L stands for love.

We’re talking about the ability to feel love for others. Not think it, feel it. The ability to create spaces where the love for a cause, and the love for one another, is tangibly experienced. An environment that implicitly and explicitly acknowledges love as the ultimate animating force.

Sound a little woo-woo to you? Remember, the notion of LQ comes from Jack Ma, a wildly successful and oh so non-touchy-feely CEO.

I think of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. A global pop culture event. Bishop Michael Curry stunned his traditional audience with an impassioned sermon about the redemptive power of love. The sermon went viral. And Curry wasn’t just talking about romantic love. Love, Curry, says, can change the world. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where love is the way.  

Yes, business and commerce. Imagine.

The Power of Neural Coupling 

It starts with personal leadership.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson is one of the world’s leading Positive Psychologists. In her wondrous book “Love 2.0,” she deconstructs the notion of love and rips the romantic connotations from it. Fredrickson challenges us to create everyday moments of love. She calls them micro-moments of love. Moments where we feel deeply connected with one or more persons.

Within micro-moments of love, Fredrickson says, your own positivity, your own warmth and openness, evoke – and are simultaneously evoked by – the warmth and openness emanating from the other person. 

Here’s how a neuroscientist explains it.

Uri Hasson is a professor at Princeton University. He conducts research about how two brains get into sync. Hasson calls this process neural coupling. In his research, the key area of the brain that shows coupling is the insula, an area linked with conscious feeling states. In other words, neural coupling is much more likely to occur when you and I feel a shared emotion. Not a shared thought, a shared emotion. When my joy meets your joy, joy magnifies. When my love of others meets your love of others, a micro-moment is born.

Let me be clear. Micro-moments of love are not merely a lucky accident. They’re intentionally created. And future business leaders know how to create them.

Your 3 LQ Starter Questions 

The following questions will help you to activate your LQ leadership:

  1. When have I experienced a moment in which I just loved being at work? Not “liked my work.” Not “enjoyed it.” No – deeply, resoundingly loved it. Remember that moment or those moments. Remember the conditions that allowed you to feel that way. Because you can create those conditions again
  2. When did I work for a boss who I just loved working for? Remember that person. Remember her practices. Remember his energy and spirit. Remember how they made you feel. Because you can emulate the very best in them, every moment of every day.
  3. What does love in action look like for me? Your insights in Questions 1 and 2 will guide you to your answers for Question 3. You may stumble onto simple everyday behaviors and habits. You may end up identifying larger workplace initiatives that embody love. Remember – love is more than a warm fuzzy thought. It is a thought put into action.

Transcend Jargon 

In March I had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion in Mexico. Three CEOs – two from Colombia, one from Mexico – spoke of creating happier workplaces. None of them spoke about workplace engagement. Clarifying values. The phrase “workplace culture” was never mentioned. There was no jargon. Instead all three spoke of creating collective vision boards where employees share the dreams and visions for their lives. These dreams are not limited to the work the employees perform for their current employer. This is about big life dreams. Education, travel, family happiness. All three CEOs talked about offering resources to finance and support their employees’ dreams.

This is love in action. This is what it looks like.

Yes, Jack Ma is right. We need EQ, we need IQ and we need a lot more LQ.

Look, I’m an Executive Coach. You may have taken a bunch of psychological assessments. They may have told you that you’re not “that kind of a person.” You may come from a country where professional behavior is crisp and cool.

Know what? Dump the story of who you think you are.

See yourself as a global citizen.  Our world needs a little more love. The future of work needs you to go there.

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