I was at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner the other day when the conversation turned to leadership, and my blog. I was asked about my “More Human” philosophy and why it wasn’t more prevalent in today’s business world.
I said I believed it was based on a couple of core issues – one, a mistaken belief about basic human motivation, and two, a fear that being “touchy feely” couldn’t possibly produce economic success.
Before I could explain those issues further, one of the guests, a young Millennial, lamented her work situation and described her bosses as detached and uncaring, which consequently was creating a revolving door of staff arrivals and departures.
Her office just wasn’t a great place to work, and it was clear she wanted much more out of her career than a nice paycheck.
It was a great illustration of leadership applying the mistaken belief, and the fear, to a predictable negative effect.
As I returned home that evening, I couldn’t get that “why” question out of my head, and as I awoke this Sunday morning, it still lingered.
Why aren’t we all more human leaders?
Sure, I could answer that from my own experience, and what I have observed, but I needed some outside perspective – some additional concrete evidence to support my case.
This was the key passage that caught my attention (my bolding for emphasis):
Millennials appear to be more interested in living lives defined by meaning than by what some would call happiness. They report being less focused on financial success than they are on making a difference. A 2011 report commissioned by the Career Advisory Board and conducted by Harris Interactive, found that the No. 1 factor that young adults ages 21 to 31 wanted in a successful career was a sense of meaning. Though their managers, according to the study, continue to think that millennials are primarily motivated by money, nearly three-quarters of the young adults surveyed said that “meaningful work was among the three most important factors defining career success.”
A sense of meaning. Or, to put it in the business context, to be a part of a worthy cause bigger then themselves.
THAT’s the trend these researchers are seeing, and it’s staring us right in the face. It’s too compelling to ignore.
It’s really the ultimate leadership tip for the modern-day leader.
We MUST be more human, and realize that our teammates are NOT primarily motivated by money, and it’s NOT a negative thing to be empathetic and compassionate (that “touchy feely” stuff).
The Number #1 objective should be to cultivate what Smith and Aaker call the “meaning mind-set” (bold emphasis mine):
When individuals adopt what we call a meaning mind-set — that is, they seek connections, give to others, and orient themselves to a larger purpose — clear benefits can result, including improved psychological well-being, more creativity, and enhanced work performance. Workers who find their jobs meaningful are more engaged and less likely to leave their current positions.
Don’t ignore this evidence. Don’t ignore the real needs of your team. Be more human.
And guess what? Greater business success will follow.