People strive to be engaged in meaningful work. Humans, by nature, are a passionate species, and most of us seek out stimulating experiences. Companies that recognize this and actively cultivate and communicate a worthwhile corporate purpose become employers of choice.
A major Gallup Organization research study identified 12 critical elements for creating highly engaged employees. About half deal with employees’ sense of belonging. One of the key criteria is captured in the following statement: “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.”
After basic needs are fulfilled, an employee searches for meaning and a sense of purpose in a job. People seek a higher purpose, something in which to believe. If, in your role as a leader, you aren’t articulating what you care about and how you plan to make a difference, then you probably aren’t inspiring full engagement.
The Bridge to What Matters
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. ~ Helen Keller
Great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Walt Disney always communicated their “why”—the reasons they acted, why they cared and their future hopes. Great business leaders follow suit:
• Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, believed air travel should be fun and accessible to everyone.
• Apple’s Steve Wozniak thought everyone should have a computer and, along with Steve Jobs, set out to challenge established corporations’ status quo.
• Wal-Mart's Sam Walton believed all people should have access to low-cost goods.
• Starbucks’ Howard Schultz wanted to create social experiences in cafés resembling those in Italy.
Once company leaders have identified and clearly articulated what they stand for, it’s up to you to build a bridge between the business’ purpose and your own values:
• In what way can you make a difference through company products and services?
• How can you express what truly matters in the work you do?
• In what ways can you make a difference in the world through the people you work for and with?
Making a Difference
When you share your greater cause and higher purpose, listeners filter the message and decide to trust you (or not). When listeners’ values and purpose resonate with your own, they are primed to become followers who will favorably perceive subsequent messages.
You cannot gain a foothold in someone’s brain by leading with what you want them to do. You must first communicate why it’s important.
Strive to be like the leaders who never lose sight of why they do what they do and why people should care. Only then will you inspire your people to attain sustainable success.
Leaders are the stewards of organizational energy. They recruit, direct, channel, renew, focus and invest energy from all the individual contributors in the service of the corporate mission. The energy of each individual contributor in the corporation must be actively recruited. This requires aligning individual and organizational purpose. ~ Authors James Loehr and Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full Engagement