Every February, we are reminded of love — the kind usually associated with romance and kilig. However, for me, this year’s month of love is special but different. In the past, I would reminisce about moments when I first met my wife and how she made me fall for her. This time, though, the nostalgia is replaced by the excitement and anxiety of anticipation. In the next few weeks, we are expecting our baby boy!
My journey to fatherhood has allowed me to appreciate love in ways I have never experienced before. When my wife finally became pregnant, our baby boy made me realize that it was possible to love someone before he existed.
Even before my wife became pregnant, we consulted the doctor and got treatments. When we finally succeeded, we still had monthly checkups. We planned changes in our house, work arrangements and family gatherings. The things we went through before and during pregnancy made me understand that love can exist before life.
Imagine: What if this kind of love, even a fraction of it, can be applied to management and entrepreneurship?
What if managers design their organizations for new employees the same way excited parents organize their homes for their babies? What if entrepreneurs conceive products and services they love and are proud of, the same way parents are proud of their babies? What if supervisors take care of their subordinates the same way grandparents treat their grandchildren?
The classic lenses of management and entrepreneurship view people as resources and products as generators of financial value. Don’t pamper your employees, they say, for they will leave anyway. Don’t fall in love with your products, they say, for what’s more important is for the market to buy and the capitalists to invest. From a purely logical and rational perspective, these may make sense. However, isn’t it time for us to put our humanity and love at the forefront?
A parent’s love is not a love that shackles and dictates; it is a kind of love that nourishes. Sometimes, there needs to be tough love, but the goal is for children to grow into the best version of themselves. Managers need not spoil employees but set employees up for success. Entrepreneurs need not give up their artistry for product-market fit; there could be a dialogue between themselves and the prospective customer or investor.
Management and entrepreneurship can learn from a kind of love that does not exploit people and products as resources but, rather, a kind of love that is enabling and co-creative. This kind of love means treating stakeholders not as mere tools to achieve financial gain but as partners in creating value. Instead of exploiting and extracting the maximum amount of work from them, leaders should strive to empower and uplift stakeholders. By fostering this kind of love, managers and entrepreneurs can tap into their organization’s full potential and effect not only innovative but also meaningful outcomes.
In the coming days, my wife and I will celebrate our last Valentine’s day as a couple. Next year, our date will have a third wheel, but a welcome one. And I pray that this love we discovered — the kind that loved before our baby even existed — continues to grow. Hopefully, it becomes the love that enables our child to be the best version of himself.
Hopefully, this love can turn management and entrepreneurship into authentic vocations.
Patrick Adriel H. Aure, PhD (Patch) is vice-chairman and associate professor at the Department of Management and Organization, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. He advocates humanistic and sustainability-oriented management research as president of the Philippine Academy of Management.