A torched pharmacy, burned down by rioters, forms the backdrop. April 2015, Baltimore USA: a city on fire. After days of riots, a peaceful protest turns ugly as a bottle is thrown at the police. The advancing line of policemen launches pepper spray in retaliation. The media converges knowing this is going to turn ugly, fast.
Suddenly, a line of African-American men moves forward, placing themselves between the police and the protestors. They raise their hands over their heads. Are they surrendering? They then touch the tips of their index fingers and thumbs, creating a love-heart shape, held above their heads.
The police freeze and the protestors back off. Nobody is willing to launch an assault.
One of the men leans forward and explains to the confused journalists – who had never seen anything like it before – “It’s a comfort line – a love line.” He turns to the camera and says: “Kids, be positive: don’t do anything stupid. We love y’all.”
What diffused this ticking time bomb? Love did. Way back in the 15th century Machiavelli said it was better to be feared than to be loved. But is it? Is that what you want, as a leader? Today the pendulum has swung the other way. The world’s strongest power is not fear; it is love.
When we talk about love as an influence tool at work, we are talking about love for what we do (passion), love for the people we do it with (companionate love) and love for the people we do it for (our customers).
On Thursday last week, one row of ordinary citizens changed history with the best four-letter word in the world: L-O-V-E.
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