There is much written about the importance of feeling that there is meaning and purpose in our work. For those of you who have the Belief and/or Connectedness Strengths (like myself, whose Strengths are clustered in the Influencing and Relational domains) meaning, purpose and contribution to the greater good is a necessity in your life’s work. For me, it comes naturally to talk about, highlight and focus on the alignment of meaning and purpose in work. At times, I struggle with tending to the business of the business. Intellectually, I understand the necessity of it, but the work of tending to the business often drains my energy, so I procrastinate on taking care of those tasks.
Then, what about those individuals whose Strengths are clustered in the Executing and Strategic domains? I hear clients, whose Strengths are clustered in these domains, lament that they do not know how to speak about meaning and purpose. The beauty of the Strengths is that there is a way to approach, frame and deliver on the needs of your follows with any of the Strengths.
I refer to and use Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (Gallup Press, 2008) with each of the leaders I coach. From each Strengths perspective this book is a great resource on how to use your strengths to deliver Hope (meaning and purpose), Trust, Security, and Compassion which is what your people want and need from you as a leader.
This is part 3 in the 5-part series on Effective Leaders by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.Each promise paves the way to the next and contributes to overall leadership effectiveness. Click To Tweet
What promises must you fulfill if you are to be a truly effective, successful leader? Consultants Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams delineate these promises in Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results (Wiley, 2015):
1. Set the right direction and create meaningful work.
2. Engage all stakeholders and hold them accountable for performance.
3. Ensure that processes and systems facilitate focus and execution.
4. Lead effectively. Maintain trust to achieve and sustain desired results.
In the second promise, you, as a leader, foster and inspire a commitment to achieving results within your teams. You strive for engagement and assign accountability.
During my work in organizations, I have observed and worked with the resulting consequences when leaders do not achieve engagement. Clarity, commitment and trust become much more challenging to achieve.
In many instances, as the leader it is clear to you, but employees cannot articulate why their work makes a difference. Focusing solely on accountability and performance, rather than the broader elements of engagement, we often miss references to organizational purpose and fail to link daily tasks to the significance of individual contributions.
Many executives and senior leadership teams underestimate the energy and commitment required to fully engage everyone. As a leader, you are most effective when you communicate and clarify a noble purpose – ‘For the Sake of What’. Successful efforts are rewarded with employee’s energy, passion, and productivity.
In fulfilling this second promise – engaging all stakeholders and holding them accountable – you earn the trust and commitment of your team and staff. You provide the why behind the what of work. Employees expect and want you, their leader, to draw out their potential, their talent, their Strengths and their energy. You can accomplish this by creating a culture where your people feel valued, where they are encouraged to grow and to contribute. Set challenging (or stretch) goals, provide resources, and address the reasons behind the goals. When objectives are achieved, provide recognition and rewards.
Engaging your team and employees can pose challenges, but the next two promises depend on it. Each promise paves the way to the next and contributes to overall leadership effectiveness.
An effective and successful leader can answer the question, “Why does our work matter?” Do you, as a leader, regularly reinforce direction and inspire engagement? I would love to hear what you have experienced. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.