Lutz Hempel


On Love and Business

In this post, Lutz Hempel explores the power of love and related recognition, appreciation, and encouragement practices, in business and in private life.

My daughter absolutely loves K-pop (Korean pop)! Her love for a couple of idols, especially the ones from one particular group, is true and goes deep. She says it saved her life. It saved her life when she was home for a year and a half with Long Covid at age 12-13: Every day she would follow the news from that group, watch their music videos, performances, live talks, listen to their songs, check their fan social media etc. and get new energy, joy, and hope from those incredibly creative and inspiring as well as adorably kind and authentic young men. She even started learning Korean and writing amazing fiction around her idols! Her love and the love she felt coming from them were major contributors to her healing and helped all of us stay hopeful.

One day in that period, she included me in watching K-dramas with her, and I fell in love with it (watching what she loves together with her). One particular drama called “King The Land” struck me in terms of love and business: It tells the story of a young man who is entrusted by his father to lead a VIP area in Korea’s top hotel and then becomes the general manager. In an organizational culture where the only parameter for success is extraordinary performance no matter what, he starts making a difference by showing his staff respect and being kind. When people realize that he means it, the culture in the VIP team shifts from harsh and competitive to heartful and co-productive. At a big anniversary event of the whole hotel with all kinds of influential guests, the protagonist manages to impress his father and to kick off the cultural shift in the whole organization by calling out and thanking the cleaning lady, the door man, the receptionist etc. for their invaluable contributions, and only them, in his keynote speech.

I have given examples for the healing power of love and for its transformative power in business from my own life. Let’s take a look at a couple of findings from leadership experts and science on love and business:

In his amazing book The Mindful Leader, internationally acclaimed leadership expert Michael Bunting writes: “Every person in every position is doing work that matters. They matter. But too often they don’t know how much they matter because they’re rarely told. They look to their leaders for validation and often get the message, ‘So what? Big deal. That’s your job. That’s what you’re expected to do.’ Leaders may not even be aware that that’s the message they’re sending, but it is real for people nonetheless.”

He refers to the scientific work of Kouzes and Posner who, in a big study, found that almost 100 per cent of the respondents agreed that encouragement would help stimulate and sustain their performance and suggest that leaders should cultivate a practice they call ‘Encourage the Heart’, meaning “to recognise contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence, and to celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community” – what the young manager in the mentioned K-drama does.

Bunting takes it further by spotting lovingkindness as a key power and practice fostering recognition, appreciation, and encouragement, mentioning empathetic joy and gratitude as other key powers. He uses “lovingkindness” instead of “love”, explaining that it is more easily applied in a work or community setting: “For a leader, lovingkindness manifests as thinking of the welfare and happiness of the whole. It is to deeply and sincerely care about your people, to be emotionally invested in their progress and success. And it is to show how much you care about them by regularly and consistently expressing appreciation for their efforts.”

It is very interesting to see then that research in the field of positive psychology shows that love has the highest correlations with gratitude, kindness, zest, hope and social intelligence – some of those qualities are explicit in the K-drama example and in Bunting’s reflections, others are implicit, but they are all there.

Love is one of 24 universal characters strengths everyone carries in themselves and can cultivate, defined as “valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated; being close to people”. It is one of the top five character strengths most associated with life satisfaction and facilitates empathy, tolerance, and forgiveness in relationships, which contributes to the health and longevity of those relationships.

In his very useful book Character Strengths Interventions, Ryan M. Niemiec mentions two science-backed interventions or practices to cultivate love (or lovingkindness):

  • The practice of spontaneous, in-the-moment loving acts that don’t require extensive planning, memory, or forethought
  • The development of a loving-kindness meditation practice in which you consciously tap into your inner resources of love through mental focus, imaging, and statements that focus on feeling and expressing love

World-famous Zen master, peace and environmental activist Thich Nhat Hanh argues that love can and should be cultivated daily by addressing and touching it in ourselves, i.e. its four elements: lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. He reminds us that, if we learn how to love ourselves, it will be much easier for us to love others, and he invites us to start connecting with ourselves this way in simple meditative practices such as mindful breathing, mindful eating, mindful walking or mindful listening.

I hope this article has inspired you to invest in your love or lovingkindness and related recognition, appreciation, and encouragement practices, in business or in your private life. Perhaps you even discover the healing power of such practice as my daughter and our family did. I wish it for you!



Bunting, M. (2016). The Mindful Leader. Wiley

Niemiec, R.M. (2018). Character Strengths Interventions. hogrefe

Nhat Hanh, T. (2012). Die Quelle der Liebe. Herder (Original edition (2022): Fidelity. How to Create a Loving Relationship That Lasts. Unified Buddhist Chuch, Inc.)