The Real Work of Leaders

men-at-workOnce your employee’s basic needs of provision and protection are met…we move up Maslow’s Hierarchy and it gets a little more abstract.  For starters, we all need a sense of purpose (that’s bigger than making money and acquiring more stuff.)   The importance of a sense of purpose cannot be overstated – it’s vital to your employee’s well being and to the well being of your organization.  This is all about values, and passion, and mission – your reason for being.  You know this, but, if you’re like most leaders, you devote very little, if any, time to ensuring that your stakeholders have a deep sense of purpose.

Beyond a sense of purpose we all need to feel that we are understood, appreciated, and respected.  We need some sense of choice, autonomy, and opportunities to create real value.  These are real needs, and when these needs are unmet…people get anxious.  Generating solutions to meet these needs is the real work of leaders, and it is to this work that the greatest leaders devote themselves.  What if you were to focus on managing anxiety both internal and external to your organization, family, self?  How are you managing to meet these needs?

I have a client who is really mindful of the importance of this work, and has taken steps to uncover the unmet needs that are causing anxiety among his 50+ employees.  He simply started asking.  He meets with each employee, personally, to learn more about them, and he uses a survey tool to collect data on the biggest sources of anxiety.  He is learning about his employees anxiety around their marriages, around child rearing, personal finances, and health.  Beyond learning about these issues he is taking steps to address them, hiring experts to provide counseling and coaching services, and hopefully reducing the anxiety – and increasing the innovation, productivity, and profitability.  If nothing else, he has set an example of generosity and caring, and that is a huge step in generating a culture – an employee experience – a customer experience – that is worth talking about.

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