It’s a simple instruction that too many of us ignore. Aim for the heart and the mind will follow.
From factory floor to cubicle city, people want to be part of something much bigger than themselves.
They want to connect their labor and sweat and work to a greater purpose.
You can see and hear and feel it when you come in contact with people who are on a mission. Someone has ignited the spark of purpose, and the result is an unmistakable passion for the work.
You know these people:
- There’s the customer service representative who turns problems into great experiences for customers.
- The citizen serving enthusiastically in the armed forces because of a belief in country.
- The coworker who goes to incredible lengths to tackle the issues getting in everyone’s way.
- The medical professional who shows compassion with her care.
- A teacher who constantly goes out of his way to help students learn.
- The restaurant server focused on creating a great dining experience for you and your guest.
- The sales representative dedicated to helping you solve a problem, not just selling you something.
Nothing is forced. It’s all genuine.
Look behind the scenes, and there’s a boss who understands the power of purpose and mission to motivate great performances. They understand their leadership mission.
Sadly, we see the opposite too many times every day. The grumpy representative on the phone. The snarky gatekeeper at the doctor’s office. The unsmiling cashier at the big retailer. We see a person going through the motions who views you as an obstacle to be dispatched.
These poor performances are the outcome of broken systems and failed managers and supervisors leading by control, compliance and even coercion.
The approach drives the behavior.
At an executive education session a few years ago, we were working in a small group discussing our developmental opportunities and aspirations as organizational leaders. My group members talked extensively about numbers and market share and stock prices. I listened for awhile and then threw out the crazy idea that I wanted to get better at appealing to the hearts of my team members. I remarked that I believed passion for the mission would drive great results.
They looked at me funny, and after token acknowledgment of these uncomfortable ideas, they resumed their discussion of grand strategies. Something clicked into place after that encounter. I understood with crystal clarity my leadership mission.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
I love great results. They are the outcome of our collective efforts. Numbers tell us how well prior decisions worked. In some cases, they might point the way to needed improvements. But for every number on a scorecard or financial statement, there are untold number of encounters. I opt for the hard work of ensuring those encounters are productive and positive. A great place to start is by engaging people excited about bringing the mission to life and then doing everything possible to help them on this journey.