Posted: 23/10/2014 3:30:41 PM by
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Most employers we meet would like to have greater engagement between their employees and their business. Employee engagement surveys are an effective way to measure engagement but they focus too heavily on the employee and their attitude to the business. Employee engagement is really driven by engaging leaders. It is well known that the most common reason for people to disengage is a poor manager.
Small business is a creative pursuit. Small business leaders who focus on clarity of purpose, driving a productive culture, with openness to different paradigms, that allow people to do what they love create inspired contributions to their creation. It is no accident that those businesses encouraging inspired contribution consistently achieve higher results.
Without a driving purpose, there cannot be inspired business leadership. Great business leaders are able to cut through the distractions and focus on achieving their purpose. It is often very difficult to describe your business purpose, because it’s emotional. A purpose is not a mission. It is not a vision. It is why your business exists in the first place.
In most businesses, employees will tell you that the business exists to make money. While making money is always a business founder’s objective, it is rarely their purpose. We conduct deep interviews with business owners as a part of our work. Those interviews consistently reveal that the top drivers for business founders are:
Autonomy – the desire for freedom. This is the number one reason for founding a business. These founders are driven to create something that allows them choice for how, where, when, and with whom to work.
Excellence – the desire to do something better. These business founders are driven by the desire to create better products or services.
Creativity – the desire to create something different. These founders are driven by an idea. They have imagined something new and created a business to bring that idea to life.
Rarely is only one of these the sole motivator behind a business founder. There is always a unique combination of these that have led to the decision to create a business, in a special moment where an alignment of the ‘head and heart’ created the drive to ‘just do it’.
For many, their purpose in founding the business was a feeling. This is why it is hard to communicate, but communicating it is a must, because it is only with clarity of that purpose that you can attract others to help achieve it, and then confidently empower them to act, interact, and decide in ways that are consistent with it.
The values of the business owner and their purpose are closely related, especially in relation to their sense of justice, fairness, and tolerance. Having clarity of your purpose therefore means also having clarity of your values.
Without this clarity of purpose, the people in your business will assume that your business is like every other – and their decisions, interactions, and actions will be guided by a purpose other than yours.
A business Culture is the 'way things are done around here'. It is the driver of people’s behaviour, action, and interaction. Culture is the series of permissions that people believe they are given - or not given - in deciding why, what, how, when – and especially if - they do things.
Under weak leadership, those with the strongest or most volatile personalities nearly always drive the business culture. They give and revoke the permissions – often based only on what they feel at the time. In the most unproductive business culture the way things are done is based entirely on the mood of only a few people.
A leader with clarity can guide the business culture based on the business purpose. When everyone in a business is clear of that purpose, and permissions are given and revoked based on that purpose, then productivity soars and a healthy workplace emerges where people are free to do what they need to do in order to achieve something bigger than themselves.
Our paradigm is the way we interpret the world around us. Differences in ethnicity, upbringing, and life experiences all influence our paradigm. Every team member can interpret situations and events differently because they are being filtered through different paradigms. Effective leaders seek to understand these differences so that the reaction to situations and events can be purpose driven.
Having awareness of paradigm is game changing for many leaders. By seeking to understand another persons paradigm you can remove the fear of ‘personality’ clashes. Rather than worrying about differences in personality, you can invite and permit conversation about the impact of different situations and events, knowing those differences are merely driven by a different filter of interpretation. By openly sharing different points of view, you will reveal the hidden assumptions behind people’s reactions and responses. Then, rather than having individuals reacting in isolation to situations and events, you can give a co-ordinated business reaction that is focused on the desired business outcome.
One paradigm many business owners wrongly hold is that they are the business risk takers. That view leads to predominantly transactional employment relationships where the employee provides a service only because of payment from the employer. The focus from both sides of the transaction is the payment, rather than the contribution. We know, however, that people who love their work more frequently achieve the most successful outcomes, even without the biggest pay check.
Love is a word rarely used in business. That’s a pity because it is highly encouraging, motivating, and engaging. Your employees will react to knowing that you love the way they’re contributing. It’s more than positive reinforcement; it is giving explicit permission for the right activities to continue. In doing so, you create an environment where constructive dialogue about new ideas, business improvements and furthering your creation can take place.
Have you experienced working with an inspired business leader? Share your thoughts and comments below. We’d love to hear from you.