Does Being in Love Make You a Better Manager?

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February 8, 2011

With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, I’ve been thinking about love.  In fact, this time of year, stories about being in love are all around.  As I was driving to work last week, there was a brief story on satellite radio that told about how people behave better when they are in love.  This sparked me thinking about whether or not being in love, or being loved in general, can make a person be a better manager.  So, I set out to find out.

I found study after study that tout the health and other benefits of being in love or being loved.  The key is not only physical, but mental.

People who are loved:

  • have lower stress levels
  • get better sleep
  • take fewer risks
  • practice more preventative health
  • have increased levels of Dopamine (which positively affects pleasure and motivation)

Just yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article on the health benefits of falling  and staying in love.  According to them, “Hugging and hand-holding have been found to release the hormone oxytocin, which lowers the levels of stress hormones in the body, reducing blood pressure, improving mood and increasing tolerance for pain, according to research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”

So, I wonder, does being loved or in love make you a better manager?  I think it can.  If you are experiencing some of the benefits mentioned above on a regular basis, you are likely to bring a more positive attitude to work.  Theoretically, you should be able to better manage your responses to stressful situations.  And on the flip side, if you are going through personal relationship problems at home or if you are depressed, it will be much more challenging for you as a manger.  You will have to somehow overcompensate at work just to be able to motivate others.  Hard to do when you’re not feeling very motivated yourself.

In order to provide an environment that fosters employee engagement and coaching, HR needs to think outside the box.  Maybe the missing link is our ability to help support employees who are having personal relationship difficulties.  What do you think?

10 Comments

  • Trish – this is fascinating and such a different perspective !! Too often HR tends to run from relationship based issues because they fear that they’ll cross some imaginary line with people. We forget that we were literally created to have relationships with other people. If those aren’t going well, chances are people are struggling and they’ll show it at work. Great post !!

    • @Steve- You’re so right. We were created to have relationships. But, when employers expect us to leave that at the door, it doesn’t work. It’s just hard to find the perfect blend of being who you are and not interfering with work. Happiness flows both ways though…. 🙂

  • Very interesting post, Trish. I also wonder if the love of a parent has a similar positive impact. I am a better person, employee, manager and HR pro because I am a parent. I’ll have to follow up in 5 years when we hit the teenage years, but the first 8 years of parenthood have been full of love, learning, patience, sacrifice, challenges, empathy and growth. My kids make me a better person every day!

    • @Bonita- What a great point! I completely agree. My kiddos are both 7 and bring me more joy and happiness that definitely translates into me being a better person to my colleagues. We should check back in 5 though because we’ll both be going through the teenage years at the same time. 🙂

  • There’s a difference between being in “love” and in “looooove”.

    What’s the difference?

    In “love” means that you are over the initial puppy love feelings that make you do stupid things, such as being late for work, coming to work with hickies on your neck, wearing yesterday’s clothes, etc., etc. I have seen this so many times where one thinks they are in “love” rather than in “looooove”, and their behaviour is worse after the bubble bursts. In fact, their productivity is even lower than when they thought they were in “looooove”. Also, one in “looooove” tends to talk incessantly about their “looooover”, which in turn leads to low productivity and a lower morale amongst their co workers. Okay- I can’t stand a person in “looooove”!!!!!

    But being in “love” with your partner means you would go to the ends of the Earth for this person, defend their honour, and whatever else comes along the way. This state of mind generally accompanies a feeling of responsibility at work; after all- you have a partner and children to feed, clothe and house.

  • Not to be a Debbie downer on a great post. But, to me the most in your face, obvious example of performance relating to love would be working with someone who has recently lost a loved one by a break up or a death. It can cause a dip in performance at a stressful time. Though there are those rare individuals who escape into their work to avoid dealing with loss. I believe love is a barometer! Happy times are productive times! Thanks for the holiday-theme post.

  • I agree with the need to be “feel the love” However we are all in our jobs to be remarkable at what we do so if it means less risks and then less creativity and we get “soft” then it is going the wrong way.

Comments are closed.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.

HR HAPPY HOUR LIVE! TALENT ACQUISITION & ONBOARDING

THE FUTURE OF WORK

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