“The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is an excellent book about love and relationships, but little did I know what it would teach me about leading a team of employees. Initially, when I read the book, I read it to find out about my communication style in relationships, but it taught me a tremendous amount about my communication style in my business, too.
There is a lot to glean from taking the love languages quiz—about you as a leader and your team members alike. Here’s how to use the love languages of your team members to effectively lead them:
1. Word of Affirmation
If a team member’s primary love language is Word of Affirmation, this team member needs to hear how much you appreciate them. In order to keep them motivated and their spirits high, it’s crucial that you clearly communicate your appreciation to them if they are doing a great job.
This type bruises easily. Therefore, criticism must be constructive and approached softly as their feelings get shattered easily and perceived insults aren’t easily forgotten.
If you are a heavy-handed leader, those who have Word of Affirmation as their primary love language are not ideal members of your team.
2. Quality Time
If a team member’s primary love language is Quality Time, they are going to want lots of feedback and time with you as their leader. Access is what helps this type excel, so think lots of meeting and updates. Being distracted in a meeting with this type leads them to feel under appreciated and hurt.
If you are a multi-tasking leader that is in a meeting but emailing with an associate at the same time, those with Quality Time as their primary love language are not suited to your leadership style.
3. Physical Touch
Depending on what kind of business you run, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest hugging all your employees—read: HR nightmare. However, those with a primary Physical Touch love language thrive on high fives, handshakes, and pats on the back, and depending on the person, a hug may go a long way, too. A job well done rewarded with a high five sends the spirit of this type into the atmosphere.
Beware of boundaries. Just because they test high in the Physical Touch category doesn’t mean they want to be physically touched by you. It’s super important to get consent for things like hugs.
4. Acts of Service
Of all the language types, this one can be the most challenging to lead as they thrive on having others to help ease their burdens of responsibility. The reigning theme among this type is “let me do that for you,” and when leading a team, big or small, making sure they feel unburdened by tasks set forth can suck valuable time and energy.
With that said, laziness and broken commitments are what gets this type seeing red, which is a good thing for your business. Having someone on your team that values hard work and accountability can be immeasurable.
Enter with caution but don’t fear this type. When they are operating in their sphere of excellence, they can be a great addition to your team.
5. Receiving Gifts
Those who score high in the Receiving Gifts category will thrive on accolades—think employee of the year/month/week—but don’t mistake this language type as materialistic. They thrive on the effort and meaning behind the gift, which in a workplace setting, is a measure of a job well done.
Those who speak this language are very motivated by accolades and tokens of appreciation for their achievements, so being passed over for a promotion or not getting the credit where it’s due is a disastrous outcome for this type.
Though they may always be looking for recognition and credit, achieving motivates this type, and when harnessed to the benefit of your company, these types can help grow your business exponentially.
Building Your Team
It’s important to remember that when you are building a team, each member comes with his or her own way of being, and using “The 5 Love Languages” as a guide can help you lead your team in a way that allows each individual excel within your company.
My advice when hiring is having any potential team member take the test—it’s free. I’m not saying this test is the be all and end all of whether you are going to hire someone. It simply gives you another perspective with which to build the most effective team for your company.
About the Author
Bianca Osbourne is a professional chef, certified holistic nutritionist, wellness business coach, and founder of The Vitality Kitchen where she inspires vitality through food and helps aspiring wellness business entrepreneurs thrive in business and in life. Connect with Bianca @VitalityGuide on Twitter.