The Five Love Languages of Leadership

Mar 21, 2021 1 Min Read
youth team showing love
Source:Leaderonomics Archives
By Sean Patrick Hopwood (Founder and CEO of Day Translations)

When you are afforded the privilege and responsibility to be in a position of upper management in a company and lead others, it’s imperative to work on yourself as much as possible while also focusing on uplifting your team members. Uplifting your team members is not only the right and kind thing to do; it dramatically increases the morale and productivity of your company. When you have the admiration and respect of your colleagues, this is a precious thing and should not be taken lightly.

Personally, I have thought deeply about the position that I am in as the president of Day Translations and what that means. My role empowers me to not only grow as an individual but also make a positive impact on the financial and professional lives of thousands of people.

Each employee has different things that are important to them. Choosing only five things might be oversimplifying the highly complex human mind, but it’s an excellent place to start, and as managers, it’s always good to swing into action. Therefore, I present to you what I call “The Five Love Languages for Business Leadership”. It compares the love languages in personal relationships and applies them to the workplace. Some employees have all of these love languages, and some only have one or two of them. It’s important to know what love languages your employees have and cater to their specific needs. 

#1 Words of Affirmation

The first language of love in the workplace is Words of Affirmation. Some employees rely on verbal communication and feedback to excel at work. A few sincere, choice words can really lift the spirit if someone had a bad day or further encourage them to do more and be more.

Five years ago, I worked with an employee that was highly stressed out about a lot of things. He was very unproductive and unfocused. We worked together online, so it was hard to gauge exactly what was going on. However, I believe in communication, so I contacted him to find out what was going on. He had many people in his life that didn’t believe in him.

These things really got him down. So, I decided to give him some uplifting words. I reminded him of all of the reasons I hired him, and I reminded him of his excellent work in the past and how much I believed in him. From that point forward, he started performing much better. He even won employee of the month a few months later. I never made anything up. I just brought up the good points in him that already existed and accentuated them. When this happened, I made sure not to take any of the credit for his success.

Leaders must understand that we are facilitators, motivators, and visionaries. We should never have big egos where we feel like we need to take credit for someone else’s success. 

#2 Career Development

The second language of love is Career Development. This is important to a lot of people. Some people are happy staying where they are, but many employees have an inherent urge to grow and evolve in their careers. Most employees want to feel like they are growing with a company and feel a strong sense of accomplishment and self-worth in what they are doing. Therefore, even before hiring an employee, you need to have a clear-set career path for them.

In my companies, I believe there should be a path to success and growth for every position, from the most entry-level position through to the executive and C-level. In some ways, you can help people grow in their career is by offering paid or reimbursed educational courses for them to improve something that’s directly related to their profession or something they are highly passionate about.

When you encourage people to follow their passions, they will love you forever. It’s essential not to be selfish as a leader. If someone has a passion different than the position they are working in, you should either find a position within your company that is more aligned with their goals or allow them to leave and pursue their dreams. It’s never ideal forcing someone to do something that they aren’t happy with.

If you help them grow, pay for their classes, give them more responsibilities, and let them know that there is an excellent opportunity within your corporation, they will stay longer. You will decrease turnover, save money, and increase the knowledge base of your employees. You should always fully train and arm your employees with all of the weapons they need for success. This will increase the level of talented people who apply to your company, too. It’s a snowball effect

#3 Financial Rewards

The third love language, in the simplest of terms, is Money. Monetary compensation is always at the top or near the top of anyone’s list when applying to a company. Money, contrary to many trite sayings, solves a lot of problems for a lot of people. People need to meet their basic needs, and, after that, they want the things in life that fulfill them, like a family, a house, and the ability to pay their bills and fix things that break.

When you pay someone a commensurate salary that matches their experience, education, and needs, they will be much more productive at work. Without these things, it’s stressful, and their minds will be somewhere else. If you want to compete with the top companies in your industry, you will need to pay your employees a salary equal to or higher than your competitors.

You should have a clear plan for bonuses and raises in your company, Do not just give raises and bonuses out like candy, though. This could have an adverse psychological effect. Your employee could sense insecurities in you and feel like your company is desperate for them. You should have a structured quarterly review for your employees and evaluate them based on their effectiveness and productivity. If they exceed your standards, give them a raise.

Another thing that I always do as part of my personal policy is to say: “We are giving you a raise. With this raise, we expect harder work and more accountability.” You don’t just give raises for free. You need something back from them in the form of more efficient work. For those employees who are motivated by money, lots of ancillary perks will not do; they want money… that’s what they want. 

#4 Quality Time

Fourth, we have Quality time. Personally, I am not in my career to sit back and relax or retire. As my company has grown, I have had to step back and allow others to do their job. While this has reduced some of my workload, I have learned to use this extra and spend it on my employees in the form of listening, understanding, compassion, feedback, and more.

It is imperative to know your employees and treat them like humans. Ask them how their husband is. Enquire about their dentist appointment. Remember their dog’s name. All of these things create a bond between the company and its employees. Please note that I said company and employees, not “you and the employee”. If you are trying to create a bond between you and the employee, this is a selfish act. The ultimate goal should be the overall health, success, and reputation of the company, not yourself.

I use a lot of my free time at work to focus on the needs of my employees. When doing this, it’s perfect to ask questions about their life, instead of always just centering the discussion around work. For example, you can say, “Fatima, how are you? I just wanted to know how your weekend went. Do you have any pictures from your beach trip?” After discussing it, just let them go back to work without asking for anything else. This way, it doesn’t seem fake or that you had any ulterior motives when asking them. Often, when you are kind to people, a defense mechanism pops up in their head, and they say, “what could this person be wanting?” Show them that you genuinely want nothing but their happiness. Give them your quality time.

#5 Acts of Service

The final language of love in leadership is Acts of Service. I have been reading up a lot on servant leadership. I highly agree with many aspects of this philosophy while also mixing in other things with it. When you are willing to serve your employees as one of them, you gain their respect.

Some of the most outstanding leaders in history put themselves on the front lines to lead their squad. You should always be willing to help your employees when they need you. For example, talk to your employees (I just call them colleagues to put us all on the same level. No one is above anyone in the world) and ask them if they need anything. Maybe they want something as small as a cup of coffee. If so, go ahead and get them a cup of coffee so they can complete their work. Or, they may want you to read over and edit a large contract for them. Either way, by showing your employees that you are on their side and willing to do anything to help them succeed in their job, you are gaining their trust, loyalty, and respect. In return, you get an effective employee and a high morale booster.

Final Thoughts

Speaking the wrong love language in leadership can cause your message to get lost in translation. As leaders, we need to focus on noticing our colleagues’ behavior, so we can pinpoint the love language that most resonates with them. Implementing the use of love languages in the workplace is no easy feat. It will require time and repetition, but the results are worth every ounce of effort. When you intentionally reinforce the leadership love languages, you’ll increase staff engagement and improve the health and productivity of your company as a whole. Your efforts will create an environment where your team members feel appreciated and valued, which will have a wide-reaching impact beyond the bottom line.

The five leadership love languages are words of affirmation, career development, financial rewards, quality time, and acts of service. While some employees speak only one of these languages, others might speak all five of them. As a leader, it is your responsibility to meet the needs of each of these love languages to create an environment where your team members can thrive.

It is said that happiness is an immeasurable asset. Although we cannot physically measure and compare it, it is an invaluable commodity in the workplace and one that is attainable with the use of leadership love languages!

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Sean Patrick Hopwood is the C.E.O. of Day Translations, Incorporated. A lover of languages, peace, progress, education, and positivity, Sean speaks fluent English, Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Portuguese and Hebrew, a demonstration of his lifelong love of culture.

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