If you pay any attention to the mainstream media, you see it every day. It’s an underlying driver of fear. It pits one person against another. It’s the linchpin of individual insecurity.
For some counter-productive reason, our society places chosen people on artificial pedestals.
We’ve created a class of all-stars that take the form of celebrities, athletes, politicians, and business people. These individuals are no different from you or me; they simply found their life’s calling early and applied their energy to a goal consistently over a long period of time.
Remember the 10,000-hour rule Malcolm Gladwell reviews in Outliers?
In the 21st century, our society is quickly moving away from a have versus have-not mentality to one driven by community, collaboration, and allowing individuals to bring their whole selves to work. Organizational success is not hiring a small group of all-stars and giving only them resources and power. The result of that is frequently disengagement of the entire team as all-stars tend to suppress the productivity of others. According to Gallup, roughly 70% of the American workforce is disengaged and this disengagement costs the economy more than $550B annually. Money is no longer the motivator. Having autonomy, mastery, and purpose is.
As a leader, what can you do to engage your team?
I’m a big fan of social cohesion. The idea that organizations achieve more when all team members have a roughly equal seat at the table. Below are ten questions you can ask, preferably face-to-face so you can read nonverbal and verbal cues, each member of your team. Your goal in having the questions answered is to collect the most vulnerable responses possible.
- Are you an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?
- Do you prefer to spend time with people or time completing tasks?
- How do you prefer to receive appreciation?
- What are the top three ways to communicate with you?
- What are the top three ways to not communicate with you?
- When managing you, what three actions can I take to best support your needs?
- When motivating you, what three actions can I take to best support your wants?
- Describe your ideal work environment.
- Detail your top three motivators.
- What are your key strengths and how would you like to use them professionally?
After you’ve collected the responses, reflect on how you’ve managed teams historically and consciously construct new methods for engaging your current team moving forward. You’ll want to begin managing each team member uniquely. When each feels appreciated and safe, he or she will open up to you more readily – and then open up to the rest of the team. In this, you’ll begin to see a deeper sense of sensitivity to one another. Ideas will certainly flow more freely. Employee engagement will rise. Productivity will increase substantially.
The team members will feel the social support, know who to ask questions of, and feel more tightly-knit bonds, loyalty, trust, reliance, and interdependency between one another. Leadership, properly defined, is creating a culture in which everyone can do their most courageous thinking together.
Would you like to be a great leader? Unlock human potential? Allow your team members to bring their whole selves to the office? If so, be a humble and grateful leader. Don’t place your all-stars on artificial pedestals and give them all of the credit and resources. Provide each member of your team equal time and opportunity to lead change. Proactively build community, meaningful relationships, and drive inclusion amongst the diverse members of your team. Teach them to think, say, and do in harmony and in consideration of others.
Lead your team. Build identity capital. Drive social cohesion.
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