• Heartful Academy

Is the road to business success paved with… LOVE?


Do you sometimes find yourself reading something that moves you to tears? I do, but not often in the Harvard Business Review. There is a first for everything, and my first in this regard was when I read Duncan Coombe’s HBR article “Can You Really Power an Organization with Love?”


There is a good reason why Duncan’s words had such an effect on me. At the time I had started to openly talk about creating a workplace culture based on love, care and compassion. Some, well, loved it - and others didn’t. I was new to living out what was inside of me in this particular way, and I am sure that my attempts were often clumsy, and sometimes over-the-top. Yet I find peace in the fact that they were always well-intentioned. It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and it came to a point for me, where I well knew that I was not walking towards hell, but in some ways felt as if I was walking through hell. Which brings me to another saying, the famous quote by Winston Churchill: if you are going through hell, keep going!


So I did, and on the way I reached out for everything that could strengthen my resolve to keep going. One of the things I grabbed, and held on to firmly, was exactly Duncan’s amazing article. The fact that it had been printed in Harvard Business Review reminded me that I was not crazy, nor overly idealistic. Duncan wrote the article based on his own substantial experience, as well as drawing on research that he had done together with a fellow PhD and expert on the topic of organisational behavior, namely Linda Robson. What they had discovered, and the way Duncan shared these insights, resonated all the way through my system, to the point where happy tears were streaming down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that someone this insightful, accomplished and integrated in the corporate and academic world, had the courage to share from his heart so openly.


For 20+ years Duncan has been an advisor and leader within the world of institutional investment, as well as being Adjunct Professor at IMD Business School, and having a PhD in Organisational Behaviour. Linda is an Adjunct Professor at Kent State University in addition to Champlain College, and has worked with big and small organisations as well as elite sport teams on performance and human development for the past 15+ years. She also holds a PhD in organisational behavior. This power couple boldly write about LOVE in the context of business and hardcore performance. What I read in that HBR article was exactly how I felt, but was not able to express with such precision and elegance.


Duncan and Linda are also a couple privately, and when Cosmina and I had a Zoom call with them, they suggested doing this Hearttul Academy session together, which we gladly accepted.


Some of the questions we asked Duncan and Linda to address in this Heartful Academy session:

  • Why do you feel passionate about this message? You are both successful in the corporate world, established as experts and advisors, and deeply integrated in the academic world, so why take the risk and start talking about love in the context of business?

  • Is it not over-the-top to use such a charged and emotional word, and why not keep it to for instance kindness and compassion? Why did you include the L word in the title for your Harvard Business Review article?

  • What are some of the negative reactions you have encountered? Why do you think there are some that don’t like the idea of a workplace being “loving”?

  • Does a company with a culture based on Love make more money, less money, or the same amount, according to your research and experience?

  • What can an employee that wants to work for a more loving culture do, if the CEO and the executives don’t agree, and have a more traditional view on how a workplace should operate?

  • What are some examples of love in action, that we can all do more of in our daily lives, as it relates to our work and the workplace?

  • What is in your experience the most amazing benefit that comes from installing an operating system of love in your workplace?