Leading with Purpose: Linking People to Purpose and Passion

Leading-with-purposeAre you leading with purpose? Most leaders I know are full of passion. They don’t understand why their workforce isn’t. Why don’t employees really care more? Many are frustrated by attempts to bring out the passion and sense of purpose in their workforce.

It’s no secret: people who are intrinsically motivated for their own sense of satisfaction, values and purpose are likely to achieve more than those who are externally motivated by incentives. Yet leaders are stymied about how to stimulate that sense of personal motivation in a workforce that reports two-thirds are disengaged.

How do managers and leaders ignite passion in people? Here’s my take on it, after a long career in corporations and even more as a consultant/coach in both large and small companies.

It Starts with Purpose

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Unleashing Employee Engagement:
It’s Up to You as a Leader

Unleashing-employee-engagementWhen you think about it, inspiring and unleashing employee engagement should be the  number one job of managers. Ask any manager, however, they’ll tell you their biggest job is managing people, putting out fires, and tracking performance.

It’s not surprising that people who are truly engaged in their work account for only 15% to 30% of employee workforce surveys. What always surprises me, however, is how little we hold managers and leaders responsible for lack of engagement. If you’re a doctor, lawyer, or any kind of professional with less than a third success rate with clients, you’d not be in business long.

When leaders of companies say that “employees are our most important assets,” it’s somewhat misleading (not to mention demeaning), if only a small percentage of them feel valued enough to care about their work. The fact is that we don’t look to employee well being as a measure of a leader’s success. We look at the bottom line results.

Imagine what companies could achieve with a workforce where 50% or 75% of people loved their jobs and gave their best efforts? As Gary Hamel says in What Matters Now?Read More »

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Corporate Engagement :
Values, Passion and Stupid Boss Tricks

Corporate-EngagementI’m asking if small businesses and privately-held companies might do a better job motivating people than corporate engagement efforts. Smaller companies seem to excel at motivating people  through values, passion and commitment. The lack of employee engagement in large companies everywhere is a real management issue.

Employees in the 21st century, and their bosses as well, must be flexible free thinkers with a strong sense of agency in order to make a meaningful contribution in the organization. Without that, without freedom and autonomy, it’s hard to get excited and impassioned.

It is fairly obvious that the Scientific Management approach is not effective in customer service, dynamic problem-solving, or any situation where technology, competition, and the needs of the organization can change in the blink of an eye, yet even today many managers still demand compliance without independent thought. We call these bad habits “stupid boss tricks,” and they quickly destroy morale and productivity in most modern organizations.

In my own experience, corporations don’t do a good job of unleashing initiative, imagination, and passion in employees. Maybe there’s too much bureaucracy to really kindle corporate engagement, but I believe the problem is deeper: they’re operating on faulty principles of the industrial age. That’s not going to work today. Read More »

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Leadership, the Trust Deficit, and
How to Engage People

Engaged-Employees-FirstLet’s look at employee engagement from another perspective. Why should anyone give most of their time and energy — let alone their heart and soul — to doing a great job at work? The question is how to engage people when they may not even trust you?

When asked to rate the ethics of various professions in a recent Gallup poll, Americans ranked those who represent big business and big government near the bottom. In the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, barely one quarter of Americans said they would regard the information they receive from a company CEO as “highly credible” or “extremely credible.”

Truly we have a trust deficit in business leadership. As I wrote in my last post on engaged employees, fewer than four out of 10 people believe their managers are seriously concerned with their well-being. So, as a manager, how can you expect employee engagement? And with an uncertain economy, trust is likely to unravel even further, as those in charge seek to bolster the bottom line no matter the cost in human well-being. Read More »

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Where Are the Engaged Employees
with Passion, Commitment and Values?

Engaged-EmployeesWhere can you find more engaged employees? It seems to me that people working in privately held companies and small businesses are more likely to be values-driven, impassioned and committed than those in corporations. But that’s just my experience. I can’t find any research on this. What do you think?

I’m often consulting and coaching in family-owned or smaller companies that don’t answer to Boards or shareholders and the level of commitment I see is often outstanding. These companies have engaged employees who appear to be more empowered, energized and interested in their work. I’m wondering what the difference is.

Most employee engagement studies have been done in global public corporations. The key factors that determine workplace engagement, according to the Global Workforce Survey done by Towers Watson over the last decade include:

  • The ability to participate in decision making
  • The encouragement given for innovative thinking
  • The availability of skill-enhancing job assignments
  • The interest shown by senior executives in employee well-being

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Can Business Values Be Both
Utilitarian and Inspirational?

Business-ValuesLet’s look at business values and principles from a different angle. In my opinion, it’s hard to come up with really good innovative ideas and products when people are driven by money and profits alone. It just is. But when you ask people to imagine a product or service that knocks the socks off customers, now, that sparks inspirational ideas. It makes all the difference in the world when innovators are inspired by lofty values.

Remarkable contributions are spawned by a passionate commitment to timeless human values, such as beauty, truth, wisdom, justice, charity, fidelity, joy, courage, and honor. ~ Gary Hamel, What Matters Now?

Hamel thinks that humanizing the language and practice of management is a business as well as ethical imperative. He writes, “A noble purpose inspires sacrifice, stimulates innovation and encourages perseverance.” So the next time people scoff about noble business ideals and values, remind them that while there’s nothing wrong with utilitarian values like profit, advantage, and efficiency, they are just not inspiring for innovation or hard work. Read More »

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Business Ethics and Values: What Now?

Business-ethics-and-valuesIn taking a step back to look at what’s happening with business ethics and values, what do we need to remember for the future? What lessons have we learned from the 2008 financial recession?

It is good to remind ourselves that what matters most now is what’s always mattered: our bedrock values. ~ Gary Hamel, What Matters Now

The problem with reminding people about core values is that it often comes across as preaching. We’re too quick to parrot the company mission and values statement, that is if we can remember a few catch phrases. If we look honestly at the first decade of the 21st century, we haven’t had a good start in the ethics and values department. Read More »

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What Matters: Do We Need a
Values Revolution?

What-Matters-ValuesWhat matters in leadership today? What’s most important if we want to build sustainable business organizations?

Maybe Gary Hamel is right when he claims we need a values revolution in business (What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation.). In a 2010 Gallup Study only 15% of people rated the ethical standards of executives as “high” or “very high.” Nurses came in first at 81% and corporate lobbyists last at 7%. Read More »

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Leadership in 2016: What Matters Most?

2016-what-matters-mostWhat matters most? Where do we go from here? It’s another new year, perhaps we’ve had a chance to review and renew ourselves  over the Holidays. The challenges of work are still there, and we have to decide were we will prioritize our energies for 2016 and beyond.

What truly matters now? Or, as the title of Gary Hamel’s book asks, What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation.

I found great inspiration in this book not because it revealed anything new or revolutionary, but because it’s an impassioned plea for a moral renaissance in the workplace. It confirms what I emphasize with my clients: no matter what job you’re in, no matter what challenges you face, you thrive when you uphold your core values and purpose. If you know what you’re committed to in life and work, you’re grounded in principles. That’s a strong place to be coming from, especially when we don’t always know where we’re going. Read More »

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Reinventing Work:
Putting Values and Purpose First

Values-PurposeIn my recent series of posts on reinventing work, I’ve been exploring both past and present organizational models. What new trends are emerging in how we manage people? Is there a better way than what we’re doing now? Some say we’re ready to change how we work.

In particular, Frederic Laloux in the book  Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness outlines structures and processes being used in a dozen pioneering companies using three breakthrough principles:

  1. Self-management by teams who take responsibility for most functions
  2. Bringing the whole person to work
  3. A true dedication to the organizational purpose by everyone involved

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