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  • Brainz Magazine

5 Love Languages Translated:

Understand how leading with love can elevate you from a positional leader to a permissional leader

Photo: Unsplash

Positional Leader: People follow you because they have to, in order to keep their job.

Permissional Leader: People follow you because they want to (regardless of position).

As the season of love ends and oozes into the workweek, Post-Singles Appreciation day (I mean Valentine's Day), leaders can use this aligned energy of love and appreciation to their benefit!


Whether you are a leader in an organization, a leader in life or guiding an organization; endowing lessons of love that have helped us flourish romantically, to the relationships we spend our most time surrounded by, can flourish your leadership just the same.


Your office relationships are arguably, some of the most potentially powerful relationships you have.


These relationships not only solidify the advancement (or retrogression) of you and your team, but also the mental health of the people involved. Including and especially, YOUR sanity.


Can we all agree when close relationships are incubated in the workplace, we become more excited to work hard, and are more inclined to reach our goals? If not for ourselves, then for others.

“You can impress people from a distance, to influence, you must get close”. - John C. Maxwell

Leadership at its core is influencing others. In taking action to influence, you must care for and stimulate the personal growth of a living being, separate from yourself. GASP! This living force, by nature, holds continuous and ever-changing dynamics.


So… how do you maintain access to these dynamics?


Well, you actually have to get to know the internality of another person. DOUBLE GASP!! This is called having an authentic relationship with someone.


Oh, you thought this leadership thing was all about you? You see, the leadership process involves continuous focus and helpfulness towards others. Period.


A huge part of the process is listening. This involves being present and attentive with others. As a leader, your job is to initiate a relationship with your team. You have the opportunity of learning the people who encircle your daily activities. It's your time to express genuine value and appreciation. It is vacancy to express your love language.


And wouldn’t it be entirely effortless for your teammates to receive your leadership if you knew how to understand, translate, and communicate their love language?


If performed daily (shown in big or small ways) each team member individually would then determine you as a credible power. That's daily compounding dedication!! In other words, you would gain the trust of each and every one of your team members everyday... Which just so happens to be the foundation for any and every healthy relationship.


So, do you think you have the leadership skills to lead with love?


The 5 love languages, according to Gary Chapman (the author of the best-selling 5 love languages) include: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.


Apart of LL appreciation to another person, is the ability to recognize it first. Someone will most likely always demonstrate their LL first, only assuming they love the way they learned to accept love. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.


Generally, each person is going to have a primary love language and a secondary one. Some may score evenly for 3 or 4 LL (to find out your love language you can click here). That simply means 1 of 2 things: they need an even amount of all of these love languages to feel loved OR they are less particular about the way they would like to receive love. Any effort is fully received. These are our low maintenance lovers. God bless their hearts.


Let's see if you can find yourself or any of your team members in these 5 love languages:


Acts of service:


  • Acts of service is all about demonstrating your love and kindness through service. Acts of service is a bit tricky because there are some things that a person dislikes doing more than others. The thing that this person absolutely doesn’t enjoy will most likely be the go to, to show this person you care. That is also called being attentive to my friends! Something you will need to be in tune for when evaluating what someone's love language may be.If someone on your team has verbalised how they are less than thrilled of cleaning the office kitchen again, they would probably appreciate an act of service in that realm. Maybe they are not the type to complain, they are always the first to pick up everyone's Starbucks orders, but you can tell they are over being the go to runner for the job . Unless this is a part of their job title, this is your chance to show value to this person with an act of service.

  • Acts of service in the office is an unending list of easy shots. If you have picked up a hint that acts of service is an individual's primary LL, you want to play around with the different types. Is this person interested in acts of service relating to their comfortability? This means picking up coffee, lunch, or making sure they don't have to carry that heavy box across the office. Or, is this person more interested in assistance with a tidy office space? Would this person simply enjoy someone listening to their proposal while they are going through the beginning drafts?  Acts of service does not have to be as laborious as it sounds, in fact depending on what that particular person values, they may weigh the benefit most by the acts of service that simply provide a listening ear to a question.

  • A leader doesn’t always need to, but should be available to take the biggest load. Sometimes that means taking a load off of others just because you want to show appreciation. This is also very humbling and grounding for any leader. Your team will notice this and mad respect points will be given!


Words of affirmation:

  • Is for those who light up everytime they receive a compliment. For the lover of affirmations, verbalizing is everything! You will notice the lovers of this love language, may value clarity, over-communication and transparency over anything else.

  • Showing love to this language in the office involves using language to build others up. Building someone up generally comes in the manifestation of encouragement, affirmations, or a mix of both. Encouragement is more of a verbalized approval. For example, telling someone ”I think you got this all by yourself!”. While, an affirmation is more of a statement. For example, ”You are gonna crush this project with your tenacity to win!”. Notice that the affirmation is very specific. You want specificity when you affirm someone because you give the other person less reason to doubt the genuinely of the affirmation.

  • As a leader, going out of your way to communicate value to someone on your team, shows you have interest in this person. Acknowledging someone for something they did right, past the bare minimum, goes a long way. Most people are used to only being approached about the things they did wrong. Team members will be inclined to fulfill this affirmation and work for the team that much harder.


Quality time:


  • This may be a team members love language if they seem to communicate better one on one, love sharing their experiences, or have a lot of ideas. I would try this one out first on the most unengaged members of your team. Chances are this person doesn't feel connected to you, or maybe they feel ignored or left out of your attention completely.


  • Quality time LL is all about thoughts, sharing experiences, feelings and desires in an uninterrupted context. This is called undivided attention and communication. Action required for this LL in the office may be: monthly one on one check ins or asking a specific person their opinion on a topic in the next group meeting. Although one on one is recommended, team bonding events could work as well! As long as the activity is one you can get some type of one on one with everyone. Examples of this are bowling; where there is time to chat with everyone.  There's also, the game where everyone holds hands and gets out of the knot, and trust me everyone will be talking!! Facilitate appropriately so each person gets their moment to have the spotlight and be heard.

”Leaders listen with their ears, eyes, heart, & undivided attention”- John C Maxwell
  • As a leader, you must train yourself to be present and in tune when others are speaking. One on one's are an opportunity to find out the “why” for each individual on the team. The main motivator behind everything they do. Understanding their why, through sharing and discussion, you can get a clear picture of how their why can fit in with the vision you have for the team within the organization.This also, gives you the moment to express this vision to others. At this point you would have a high chance of that vision gaining acceptance. Permission from the individual, of their role in helping the team get there, will most likely be granted. In addition, it is a great way to stay in tune with the ever- changing dynamics of your team. Everyone appreciates open communication and a platform to express their ideas on.


Receiving Gifts:

  • The lover of receiving gifts may talk a lot about the things they enjoy. They may also be the type to bring in things for the office. Frequently baking things to bring in or making coffee runs on the house. This is their way of showing love, because they would like to receive that love in the same way.

  • This is an easy one to show in the office, as long as you have got a couple bucks. No seriously! A quick run to the dollar store and 20 minutes later the whole office is filled with some fun appreciation cards, a couple silly games, & candy galore to get the team through the rest of their day smiling.

  • Every leader knows keeping the office an environment that welcomes fun, keeps employees enjoying their days, which retains high quality people who are happy to work. Just ask Google, Spotify, & Amazon about their office culture.


Physical touch:


  • The lover of physical touch is an open spirit. They are not reclused and will almost always initiate this engagement. PLEASE be aware and recognize signs of someone who is actually opposed to this LL and actually rather not.

  • Anyone who says physical touch is inappropriate for the office is a WeirDO. Physical touch is usually involved in all of our close relationships since the beginning of time. There are those of us who don't get down with this LL. For the people who prefer to opt out of this one. IT'S PRETTY OBVIOUS WHO THEY ARE GUYS. (I hope you felt my eye roll on that one, with all due gratitude and respect). If you are not sure about if someone receives this LL start out with a high five or even better a first pump. Cleanliness is indeed the next thing to godliness. Very few people will deny these two. Hugging is cool too! Once proper boundary testing has signaled this is a go! If you are still uncomfortable with this, a nice (light but felt) pat on the back works. Even better, a shoulder squeeze with SOME eye contact. It is a very affirming gesture without too much ”touch”. Let me express that, if you are not comfortable with this one, but want to try it, practice on some of your personal relationships. If you do this while being uncomfortable with the idea, you might grip a little too hard or make eye contact a little too long. That's SUPER WEirD for all parties involved.

  • My best tip for you in this one is to do what's most comfortable. Touching is a type of closeness that allows your team to physically see, their leader doesn't mind residing on the same plane as them. A nice handshake with both hands cupped around the other persons hand, is also a humble gesture of connectivity. There is also a thing called ”matching” for handshakes, you can find that here.


Observing, understanding and applying these 5 LL to your office culture, is an amazing way to demonstrate to your team the appreciation you have. The best thing you can do as a leader is making sure your team is aware of the value they bring to the organization.


Showing appreciation builds trust, which is the foundation for any and every relationship. Accordingly, you gain access to leading others not because of your position, but because your tribe wants to follow your lead.

By: Jamése Ellis, Contributor Brainz Magazine

Golden Hoops writes from the space and perspective of the multifaceted millennial boss babe, about her business! She promotes and embodies this #disruptivebydesign lifestyle through her up-and-coming clothing and oil line: @bohobossyllc. We know Golden Hoops for spitting mental health gems poetically on her social media handle @goldenhoopswrites; encompassing her passions of the written art form, fashion, business, songwriting, & personal activism.