Marcus Buckingham on why businesses should design love into work| Forward Thinkers

9 minute watch

In this world right now if you aren't talking about love and how humans can find it in their work, you are running a broken business, says Marcus Buckingham, international bestselling author and the world’s most prominent strengths-based leadership researcher. In this video he talks to The People Space’s editorial director Siân Harrington about how we’ve designed work that alienates or even psychologically damages people and why hard-nosed CEOs, CHROs and CFOs need to embrace love now




“We've created work as though human uniqueness is a problem or a bug that we need to fix,” says Marcus Buckingham, bestselling author and a global leader of the strengths-based movement. “And yet the most valuable parts of most jobs are the most human parts – the parts that require authenticity and uniqueness and human connection.”

From school to work, systems are designed around standardisation and conformity. Thus from the moment we start our journey through education and into work we are judged by how closely we match a set of models rather than by how we have cultivated our unique loves. And this has serious implications to not only our individual success but also to the sustainable success of businesses, argues Buckingham.

“We've got such intricate uniqueness inside of every one of us, and faced with that uniqueness, what work - and to some extent what school - has done - is to deliberately pretend that's not real,” he tells The People Space.

Organisations identify our gaps in relation to competencies they have designed irrespective of us as individuals, and then put in place development that is not  about manifesting our uniqueness but how closely they can get us to match the model.

“That's just everywhere. That's how we think about human performance at work. And it becomes apparent that individuals feel as if this whole project of work isn't about me at all. It doesn't actually want to see me at all. I don't think companies are trying to alienate their people or psychologically damage their people, but they're doing exactly that.”

In other words, as Buckingham argues in his new book Love + Work, we have designed the  love out of our workplaces and schools, so that they fail utterly to provide for or capitalise on one of our most basic human needs: our need for love.

“An organisation should simply be really effective at taking advantage of what it is to be human,” he says. “Well, love is a really important part of being a thriving human. If you aren't talking about love and how humans can find it in their work, you are running a broken business.

“Now it might not break immediately, but given everything that's going on demographically, it's going to break and it will break because you didn't take seriously one of the defining aspects of the human experience.”

In this video Buckingham talks to The People Space’s editorial director Siân Harrington about research on what is driving poor engagement, increasing stress and intent to leave, what the implications of a loveless workplace are and why chief executives, financial directors and human resources directors need to talk about love.

About Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham is the author of two of the bestselling business books of all time, has two of Harvard Business Review’s most circulated cover articles and has been the subject of in-depth profiles in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Oprah Winfrey Show among others.


After spending two decades at Gallup and co-creating the StrengthsFinder tool he built The Marcus Buckingham Company and is today known as the most prominent researcher on strengths and leadership at work.


He is head of people and performance research at the ADP Research Institute and the author of nine books and his latest, Love + Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life is available now.


To download a transcript of this interview – and watch other interviews with leading thinkers on the future of work and leadership as well as accessing other resources – join our Free Future of Work Community here.

Published 18 May 2022
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