What is it that companies really want?
I mean other than results. If the only thing we wanted was results, then we’d sit around on our hands, wishing for results. No, we have the capacity to take a step further and realize that results are just an outcome, a result of something that we create.
So what is it that companies want to create?
Well, they want to create value, and compelling products and services, and… <yawn> blah blah blah. The more enlightened companies know that what they really want is to create that intangible capacity of its people to change their world. . Any company worth its salt wants to be made up of people who are Committed to the company and what it stands for; who are Accountable to do their absolute best; who have Passion and energy in abundance for what they do; and who are Creative and Innovative in service of the company.
- Creativity (and by extension, Innovation)
I have never met an executive who didn’t agree these are the things they want from the people who work in their company. Everyone agrees, but sadly, too few companies can honestly say they have this in their company, at least not at the levels they need to achieve their mission. What we’re talking about here is “Employee Engagement,” and according to just about every study done in recent years, the average level of engagement in companies hovers around the 30% mark. The Gallup organization has taken it further and demonstrated that those 30% of companies who have an engaged workforce significantly outperform the rest of the field in the business metrics that count.
So the multi-billion dollar question becomes, how does a company build the levels of commitment, accountability, passion, and creativity that they so covet?
The answer is that they don’t, at least not directly.
To take on the responsibility of building commitment, accountability, passion, and creativity in others is folly and it’s arrogant. It leads to manipulation and control, which destroys the very thing you are trying to create. The truth is that all of these things already exist in people! It’s easiest to see when you look at babies and small children. Did anyone have to teach babies to learn language or to learn how to walk? In adults you can see it when people are engaged in work where they exercise choice and control, when they are playing by their own rules. Humans are born to engage with the world, but as we grow up in this world something happens to put a lid on us. We put on a mask for society (especially at work) and stop engaging in the full way we are capable of engaging. In his phenomenal book, The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz describes this as “our domestication.”
Companies should not try to build commitment, accountability, passion, and creativity… they just need to unleash it! And the way to unleash it is to stop restraining it. When I unleash my dog Marleau, I don’t need to convince him how to go use his newfound freedom. He bolts off and immediately embraces who he is. We are not so different as humans, except that our leashes are much more sophisticated and we are far less conscious of our own confinement.
The responsibility for leaders in companies is not to try to change other people. We are only responsible for being the absolute best that we can be, with the understanding that that is how we impact others. The top leader of every organization has a responsibility to himself/herself to know who they are; to know what purpose they are serving in the world right now and for their company, and to dedicate themselves to the fulfillment of that purpose. From that place flows commitment, accountability, passion, and creativity. The top leadership team of every organization is responsible for itself and the culture that it fosters. The leadership of a company must BE the change that they want in their organization. . A high performing, highly functional leadership team has a tremendous impact on the people in the organization. This is the platform for real, honest dialog within the company, which is the beginning of unleashing commitment, accountability, passion, and creativity.