What leaders really want is a workforce filled with committed people— people who are ready and willing to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to assure the company they work for is successful and growing. This translates into a solution of creating a company of high performing folks who are passionately focused on finding and keeping loyal customers. But too often, leaders are more part of the problem than part of the solution.
Leadership is the phenomenon of someone following someone else because they want to, not because they have to. As we all know, this is more rare than normal. A lot of people— 87%, according a recent Gallup poll— are basically complying and disengaged at work. They show up, they use minimal effort and energy with hardly a trace of passion. Nobody truly wants it this way.
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What this means is that it’s time for a transformation. And a transformation starts with a new mindset.
Try this one on for size: Leaders have two customers—
1) those who buy their products and services, and,
2) those who buy their call to work with commitment, creativity and passion.
Companies go to great lengths to influence the customers that buy their products and services. This happens because companies know they can’t control their customers. At best, they can only influence them. But what about the people who work for the company? Too often, people in leadership or power positions have an unconscious mindset that they control the people who work for them. This is an illusion. It has dire consequences. So here is what I suggest to such leaders: Take off your “boss hat” and put back on your “sales and marketing hat.” Approach the people who work for you as customers to whom you are selling work!
What leaders need to sell: When researchers dig into workforce commitment, they often ask workers questions that are tied to this central issue: “What would it take to get your full commitment to your company? What would it take to motivate you to do whatever it takes to help the company reach its vision and accomplish its goals?”
Here’s what the research shows. Most people work first for money. It provides them with a sense of security, options and some degree of control. But people will work well beyond money for an organization that provides them with serious growth and development possibilities— not just specific work-related growth, but also life-related growth.
This kind of growth gives them a sense of true empowerment by helping them discover their true potential, find out who they really are, and the possibilities of who they could become. A recruiting and retaining slogan for this employee value proposition might be, “Come and work here where we’ll help you grow and prosper.” And that promise has to be delivered.
There’s one more important revelation from the research: People will work well beyond the above if they are given a meaningful purpose. They desperately want to know that they are making a difference and that their life and legacy are important. It pays to sell all three.
The lesson is clear. If the value proposition offered by organizational leaders includes all three commitment drivers— money, growth and purpose— employees would be getting what they really want. They, in turn, would be more willing to give their leaders what they want, which is the employees’ totally dedicated passion.
Leaders who help employees grow simply do a better job of retaining good people. People will follow leaders who provide them with the opportunity to grow and to become all they can be while learning how to make a difference in the world— not because they have to, but because they want to! So, go forth and sell added value to your “other” customers.
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