INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
• One of the most effective things leaders can do to motivate the troops is to create meaning in and at work for them; in the work they do and at the place they do that work. This is especially true as the millennial/Gen Z cohort continues to make up a bigger and bigger percentage of the total workforce. Research shows that meaning-rich environments spur high engagement, which in turn generates 27% higher profits, 50% higher sales, and 50% higher customer loyalty than the average workforce (and that’s just a few of the metrics). Powerful ways to foster meaning include helping employees feel that their work matters, and by imbuing the work with a sense of purpose and a challenge to leave individual legacies behind. Meaning also blossoms when leaders embrace, foster, and role-model learning and growth, when they carefully boost the employee’s sense of self-confidence and show up as visibly caring, and when they grant autonomy and empowerment liberally. Meaning is the secret-sauce for motivating today’s workforce, and it’s something you can foster with a little know-how and an attitude of no more (disengagement).
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake I’ve made)
• I have a difficult time sharing my successes–not out of nobility, but out of a belief that no one is really that interested and from a fear of coming across self-centered. I’m such an idiot. Research clearly shows there are many benefits to sharing your progress with the world. A weight loss study showed people who posted selfies of their weight loss progress as they went through a program lost 5 times more weight. It’s an accountability thing–sharing progress actually motivates you to ultimately accomplish your goals because you’ve created an unspoken expectation that you’ll see your success through to the end. It’s also important to remember that people learn from your successes, that they get to know you better through your triumphs (just as they do through your setbacks), and that sharing successes triggers doses of positive reinforcement as others cheer you on in response. By the way, giving yourself a “shout out” also increases the satisfaction of having worked so hard to achieve the accomplishment in the first place. So don’t be afraid to share your forward progress—it’ll help move you (and others) forward even more.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
• As I recently watched my daughter receive her high-school diploma on stage, I thought, I’ve made the imprints that I can while she’s been molding herself, now it’s time for her to finish the work. In that aspect, parenting is much like leading. Consider what it takes to leave an imprint: intentionality, gentle (or firm at times) pressure, a steady hand. And research shows the best leaders make imprints in three primary ways: on the business, ideas, and people. It’s a helpful framework to mentally rotate through to ensure you’re having maximum impact. You imprint the business when you truly understand the underlying drivers of it – what makes it grow or decline, succeed or fail, and can spot patterns to act on. You imprint ideas when you apply your original thinking to create new ideas or help shape current ones, and when you serve as champion and sponsor to keep ideas from dying on the vine. You imprint people when you make them a priority, when you invest as much care and concern in their growth and career as you do your own. That’s it. Make imprints on the business, ideas, and people, and you’ll have left a mark worth leaving.