PRACTICE “THE LOVE CHAIR” WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
Want to know more?
The ‘Love Chair’ exercise was spontaneously designed by Founder, Ole Hoyer, when he and a co-facilitator were delivering a 2-day Resilience Training for a Senior Leadership team in a leading technology company in the Nordics.
The Leadership Team just came out of a 90-minute exercise, where we had asked them to map out their strategy and development journey for the coming 18 months on a big piece of brown paper, using their creativity with pens, magazines, scissors, glue etc. That exercise did not go well. The team spend most of the time arguing and discussing and very little was written or plastered on to the 10-meter-long brown paper after 90 minutes. At that point in time, the energy in the room was very heavy and the leaders were obviously frustrated. We had to do a dramatic change to shift the mood and get the team back into high-performance gear.
During the break, I spotted a beautiful old chair covered with red welwet standing in the corner of the conference room. And instinctively I got the idea to introduce the team to the “Love Chair exercise’. One by one each leader was placed in the chair with the rest of the team in a circle around them. Each leader sat for 3 minutes in the chair and received a lot of love, appreciation and acknowledgement from the leadership team on how they were seen as a leader, as a friend and when being with their family. Wauw, what a powerful exercise which immediately shifted the energy and the mood of the leadership team bringing them straight back into the high-performance gear again.
Since this profound experience back in 2013, The Love Chair exercise is now always an integrated part of the design of our leadership programs in 1 Change. It’s simple and yet one of the exercises, that the leadership teams often repeat again and again, with the leadership team, and with their own teams.
And why is that? Whenever I facilitate leadership teams or do 1-1 executive coaching, I often experience that the culture in high-performance environments always is looking for areas to improve. It’s never good enough. It’s rarely that the leaders are spending time on truly acknowledging each other with no hidden agenda. Often when feedback is given, you tell a colleague. What you did great was…What could be better is…But rarely do you create a situation for a leader with only pure positive feedback, and where your leadership team comes from the heart, and share with love, appreciation and acknowledgement what makes you as a leader unique and special. This is what makes ‘The Love Chair’ so impactful.
/ Ole Hoyer, Founder of 1 Change
How to practice “The Love Chair”
If you are a Leadership Team, here some clear instructions on how you can practice ‘The Love Chair’:
Setup chairs in a circle and choose the most comfortable chair in the room to be the love chair. Give some more space to the love chair than the rest of the chairs, so the leader can really feel that they are the center of the circle.
Introduce the Leadership team to The Love Chair exercise by sharing with them, that this is a unique opportunity to truly give love, appreciation, and acknowledgement to a leader for the amazing qualities that he/she possess
Place the first leader in the chair and ask him/her to sit relaxed and to hold both hand on the heart. If that’s too weird, then just ask the leader to place his hand on his thighs. No crossed legs or crossed arms, important the leader stays open throughout the 3 minutes
Choose a timekeeper who will say ‘time is up’ after 3 minutes
Now ask all the leaders in the circle to give love, appreciation, and acknowledgement to the leader in the love chair. Ideally, they have to keep talking for all 3 minutes, and in no specific order. Just keep the dialogue going. Here some ideas to what can be expressed
“It is incredible how you always show up as a calm and caring leader towards your team”
“I have always admired your ability your ability to connect and network with other people”
“You are an amazing father for your kids”
“You always shine and smile whenever I catch your eyes”
“I am impressed how good you seem to take care of yourself”
When the 3 minutes is up, you can take 1 minute to ask the leader how it felt to receive all that love, appreciation and acknowledgement. Often the leader will express that it was difficult to receive all that admiration because they are not used to it. Some leaders might get vulnerable and show it. Others just absolutely love it and wish they could be in the love chair forever
Now it’s time for the next leader to go into the love chair, and when all leaders are done with their 3 minutes, the exercise is over, and you might wanna do 5-10 minutes debrief after just for the leaders to share what this did to them, and how they can bring back the love chair to their own teams