Jim Clemmer's Leader Letter

Jim Clemmer's Leader Letter

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July 2011, Issue 100
Aga Khan University: A Beacon of Leadership and Learning in the Developing World
Highlighting Bright Colors during Dark Times
For Pete's Sake: Learning from the Error of My Ways
Nine Leadership Behaviors to Build Commitment
Defining, Measuring, Living, and Teaching Leadership
Review of Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being by Martin Seligman
Thoughts That Make You Go Hmmmm... on Flourishing from Martin Seligman
Our Dell Dance to the 'Bureaucratic Boogie' Highlights a Common Service Breakdown
Strong Leaders Harness the Power of Spirit and Meaning
Tweet Reading: Recommended Online Resources
Now Available in French, Portuguese, and Spanish: The Leader's Digest
Read It Here or Hot Off My Blog
Feedback and Follow-Up

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"Reprinted with permission from The Leader Letter, Jim Clemmer's free e-newsletter. For almost thirty years, Jim's 2,000 + practical leadership presentations and workshops/retreats, seven bestselling books, columns, and newsletters have been helping hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. His web site is www.jimclemmer.com."




July 2011, Issue 100

July, from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

In the Northern Hemisphere today (July 6) marks the beginning of the "dog days of summer" lasting until early September. Some historical references to this period of hot and sultry weather marked it as an evil time. According to a description written in 1813 by J. Brady in Clavis Calendarium, this is "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, Quinto raged in anger, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies."

A bit extreme, wouldn't you say?! This was written well before air conditioning -- the concept of the dog days of summer going back to Greek and Roman times. Brady must have written this heated passage while broiling in the middle of a heat wave!

I had to look up "phrensies." It means "violent and irrational excitement; delirium." Perhaps that's your state of mind as you anticipated this month's issue! Well… maybe not. We now have the luxury of air conditioning, beaches, pools, and cottages to enjoy the hazy, lazy days of summer. Hopefully, you're taking some time off to recharge and find material here for your R & R (reflection and renewal.)

Pakistan and Afghanistan have hot spots of violent and irrational excitement mixed with some delirium. Our first story on Aga Khan University highlights their inspiring examples of providing leadership and learning in turbulent times.

This issue also features the latest work of Martin Seligman on helping ourselves and others to flourish. This is a great time of year to assess our personal growth against his PERMA framework. We'll also look deeper at the key leadership issues of building commitment, deepening spirit and meaning, building service/quality from the outside in, and defining, measuring, living, and teaching leadership. And I hope you can learn from the error of my ways -- and folk singer Pete Seeger.

During the dog days of summer, may you find something in this issue to make you say "cool!"

Aga Khan University: A Beacon of Leadership and Learning in the Developing World

In late May our Senior Vice President of Consulting and Training, Scott Schweyer, and I were in Karachi, Pakistan for follow up work with the very extraordinary Aga Khan University. The dogs days of summer arrived early; it got up to 45C (120F) and humid! Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed working with a cool group of exceptionally energetic and determined leaders providing vital services in tough circumstances. To read about my first trip when my work with AKU started, go to my May 2010 blog post Into Africa: An Eye-Opening and Inspiring Trip.

Aga Khan University runs two medical teaching hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan and Nairobi, Kenya. They also have teaching sites and healthcare services on three continents. AKU is focused on molding leaders of the future within the developing world. Part of the strategic work we're helping them with is centered around building an integrated health system, developing a comprehensive university (they're building new Faculties of Arts and Science in Pakistan and Tanzania), improving teaching, learning and assessment methods, research and development of solutions to key healthcare and education problems facing the developing world, and strengthening their funding and long-term financial sustainability.

For a shot of inspiration, I highly recommend you view a 12 minute video on their web site. Click on Aga Khan University and then the video screen on the right entitled "The Difference We Make." You'll see shots of their beautiful campuses and hospitals as well as inspiring stories like the Kenyan nursing graduate who persevered through her studies (often by candle light) while raising seven orphaned nieces and nephews in Nairobi's notorious slums. Or you can learn of efforts to rebuild Afghanistan's war-torn healthcare system. In the video, university, medical and foundation leaders (like one from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) call Aga Khan University a world class leader.

The video also touches on the original roots and core mandate of AKU as a pioneer of tolerance, diversity, and education in the Muslim world. CEO Firoz Rasul, and I have had in-depth and enlightening conversations about the university's role in broadening perspectives, understanding, and honoring each person or group's personal development or spiritual paths across all societies and religions. For more on his perspectives, see "Bridging a 'Chasm' of Ignorance." This world can sure use a lot more tolerance and mutual respect and a lot less narrow-minded extremism across all religions.

Aga Khan University can use lots of help to keep expanding their vital work. When you're on their site, click on Working at AKU and follow any of the links on the right for current vacancies or overseas volunteer opportunities. I first connected to AKU through their VP of HR, Carol Ariano. She was a Canadian Client of my previous company, The Achieve Group, back in the early nineties. Carol is continually recruiting throughout Europe, North America, Australia, and other western countries for professionals interested in a major career shift to making a difference in a part of the world that needs lots of help.

I have donated books and part of my fee/time to this very worthy cause. As AKU grows, financial sustainability is becoming ever more critical. They appreciate any and all donations.

Highlighting Bright Colors during Dark Times

Aga Khan University is a remarkable example of a highly values and mission driven organization navigating through very turbulent times in difficult parts of the world. During my initial trip last June and my recent visit this May, I had some time to tour the teaming city of Karachi (population 18 Million.) I filled my digital camera with lots of fascinating photos. Click here to view some of my photos.

I was especially struck by the vibrant and joyful colors displayed in clothing, artwork, interior decor, and even everyday items at the market like aprons and towels. The above photo is a wall hanging I purchased last year. The precise and detailed needlework took the artist who created it eight months of hard work. It hangs prominently in our dining room eliciting plenty of admiring comments.

The most fascinating and public exhibitions of vibrant and joyful artistry are the thousands of brightly painted trucks and buses filling the busy streets of Karachi. I did some research when I got home and found an interesting site on the painted trucks (Masterpieces to Go) where there's a history and a gallery of some of the most elaborate trucks. There's also a site with more painted trucks and some of the buses. Many of the photos on these two sites show trucks and buses much more decorated and over the top than I saw.

With last summer's devastating floods, violence and terrorism, a fledgling new democracy, poverty, and a struggling economy, Pakistan is going through very difficult times. The cheerful works of art are outcroppings of indomitable human spirit shining through bleak times. Highlighting our brightest colors during our darkest hours is a lesson we can all take to heart.

For Pete's Sake: Learning from the Error of My Ways

Within 10 minutes of my blog Changing Seasons, Changing Skills, Habits, and Perspectives being posted (this was also the introductory section for last month's Leader Letter) an alert reader sent me an e-mail entitled "For Pete's Sake," pointing out that I'd incorrectly credited "Bob Seeger" as writer of the song, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" from Ecclesiastes. It was actually Pete Seeger. Mia culpa! Sorry Pete! I hope you -- and not Bob -- gets the royalties from this popular tune that's been recorded by so many other artists.

I was corrected by a few other readers in fairly short order. John Eckhart, Quality Management Coordinator, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at The Mayo Clinic wrote that he spotted the error because "'Turn, turn, turn' from Ecclesiastes was the basis for the wedding ceremony when we were married way back in 1969. The pastor was upset that it wasn't an approved wedding sermon but he did a great job. Our 42nd anniversary is June 8."

John is clearly in the right job: quality management! And the pastor clearly did a great job since he and his wife are together over four decades later. He adds this timeless wisdom: "In over 40 years of marriage one learns the art of compromise, the hazards of judging, and the power of love. All good things."

Thanks to readers for the quick corrections! We were able to immediately correct the blog post and the June issue of The Leader Letter before it was published.

Yet another reader wrote, "I'll bet a story on old Pete Seeger would make a good leadership story. He's still feisty at 92." He's absolutely right! The Wikipedia entry on Pete Seeger -- now 92 -- is extensive and a wonderful review of this iconic American folk singer's extensive work and life as an activist authentically and boldly living his values. Three years ago he released At 89, an album that earned him the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album.

I am inspired by people like Pete Seeger and Warren Bennis (see my recent review of his new book) who stay fully engaged in life well into their 70s, 80s, 90s -- and beyond. Our neighbor's father learned to read at ninety. Now 104, he's got a big stack of books to keep him engaged.

I've written a few pieces about the energetic elderly who maintain their passion for life. You can read about Jack and Elizabeth versus Howard and Sylvia in Apathy and Cynicism Zap Our Spirit, how we can get old rather, than grow old in Signs of Stagnation, and how Life Accumulates in our Personal Choice Accounts.

What's in a name? Lots, in this case! Who knew one little name error could open up such rich discussion and learning? It's a great reminder of how innovation and discovery often comes from drawing lessons from our mistakes.

Nine Leadership Behaviors to Build Commitment

So many leadership topics to write about and so little time! I continue to stockpile research on personal, team, and organization leadership. Today's blog draws from two research pieces I've been hanging on to for a while, waiting for a chance to share them with you.

The first is about how "CEOs Misunderstand Employee Engagement." This piece in Management-Issues tells of a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit that, "more than eight out of 10 top executives in companies across Europe and the Middle East view disengagement as one of the three biggest threats to their business." I am sure that's similar in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.

Yet, "barely more than one in 10 say that their companies regularly take action to tackle staff with continually low engagement." Amazing, but certainly consistent with our experience!

The article also cites "research by consultants Hay Group… that up to 30 per cent of variance in business results can be explained simply by differences in the work climate created by line managers."

That leads to the second piece of research from Zenger Folkman on Employee Commitment. The company surveyed 100,000 people, examining 49 behaviors that evaluated 16 leadership competencies and then "isolated the top leadership behaviors that created a satisfied employee who is highly committed."

Writing in Executive Excellence, Joseph Folkman reports on "improving nine leadership behaviors has the greatest impact on employee satisfaction and commitment:

  1. Inspire and motivate others. Leaders who effectively inspire and motivate others have high energy and enthusiasm. They energize their team to achieve goals and increase performance.
  2. Driving for results. The drive for results is vital; however, some leaders are all push (drive for results) and no pull (inspiration), which reduces motivation. A healthy balance is necessary.
  3. Strategic perspective. Leaders who provide their team with a definite sense of direction and purpose have more satisfied and committed employees. These leaders paint a clear perspective between the overall picture and the details of day-to-day activities.
  4. Collaboration. When leaders show that they can achieve objectives that require a high level of cooperation, they create synergy, and everyone enjoys the work more.
  5. Walk the talk. Being honest and acting with integrity creates a more satisfied and committed workforce. Leaders need to be role models and set a good example.
  6. Trust. Leaders engender trust by becoming aware of employee concerns, aspirations, and circumstances; projecting deep expertise, knowledge, and confidence in making informed decisions; being consistent and predictable; and exhibiting honesty and integrity.
  7. Develops and supports others. When leaders help employees to develop new skills and abilities, employees have higher satisfaction and commitment, and become higher performers and more promotable. Effective leaders are thrilled by the success of others.
  8. Building relationships. Leaders who stay in touch with employee concerns engender higher employee satisfaction and commitment. Such leaders balance getting results with a concern for others needs.
  9. Courage. The leaders with the highest employee satisfaction and commitment are courageous. They don't shy away from conflicts. They deal with issues head-on; when they see the first signs of problems within their teams, they address it directly and candidly."

This is an excellent checklist for our personal leadership development or to assess or review the skills of anyone on your team or in your organization that you're trying to develop to increase employee engagement.

Defining, Measuring, Living, and Teaching Leadership

What is leadership? How can I tell if I am a good, bad, or mediocre leader? How can I develop my own leadership? How can we measure and build leadership effectiveness in our organizations? I've discovered the ancient secrets and answers to these questions and have created a magic pixie dust that you can sprinkle on yourself and other leaders to create instant effectiveness…!!

Of course, there is no magic, secrets, or definitive answers to these key questions. Management practices are about a way of doing things -- processes, systems, procedures, methodologies. Leadership is a way of being -- emotions, values, growth, and culture.

My blog post Nine Leadership Behaviors to Create Commitment (previous article published above) stimulated useful observations and questions from two readers. One reader noted that, "Most managers let themselves off the hook for the poor productivity of an employee." He added that it's possible to rectify these situations. Another reader asked, "How is the measurement and management of leadership effectiveness actually implemented in practice?"

Both are key leadership points without easy or clear cut answers. Go to Nine Leadership Behaviors to Create Commitment to see the full comments and my responses. What are your thoughts, experiences, or advice? Join the conversation!

That blog post was based on research and materials I'd been waiting to share with you. There are two more pieces I've also been holding for a while that are very relevant to this discussion.

One is Five Signs You're a Bad Boss by Diana Middleton and published in The Wall Street Journal. She writes, "Experts say many bosses are similarly clueless about their appearance to employees. Here are five signals you may be one of them (condensed here to just her headings):

  1. Most of your emails are one-word long.
  2. You rarely talk to your employees face-to-face.
  3. Your employees are out sick -- a lot.
  4. Your team's working overtime, but still missing deadlines.
  5. You yell."

Another very useful piece addressing the question, "What is leadership?" was provided by Deepak Chopra writing in the San Francisco Chronicle. Entitled The Leadership Vacuum – Make It Your Friend Chopra declares, "Among the myths about leaders is that they are born and not made." For more on the emerging evidence on just how true that is see blog post Powerful Proof That Leader's Are Made, Not Born.

Chopra goes on to explain, "Leaders appear when awareness meets need. A person who knows what a group actually needs -- the group can be a family, business, team, or political party -- must be more aware than those in need… once the need is identified, the leader must take steps to fill the role that it demands." He outlines a hierarchy of leader roles "arranged from lowest to highest… higher needs can't be fulfilled until lower ones are met (condensed here to just headings and his first line):

  1. Protector: Your role is crisis manager.
  2. Achiever: Your role is motivator.
  3. Team Builder: Your role is negotiator.
  4. Nurturer: Your role is counselor.
  5. Innovator: Your role is catalyst.
  6. Transformer: Your role is inspirer.
  7. Sage and seer: Your role is pure light."

We're steadily getting better at defining, measuring, and teaching leadership skills and behaviors in our organizations. At a personal level, much of leadership is about our own unique journey of self-discovery and growth. Personal leadership development is much like walking across new fallen snow looking for our leadership path. It's when we stop and look back at the route that we've taken we see our path.

Review of Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being by Martin Seligman

Since the mid-eighties I've been an avid follower of Martin Seligman's leading-edge work at the University of Pennsylvania. He began his distinguished psychology career in the late sixties studying pessimism, learned helplessness, and depression. His two previous books, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life and Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Lasting Fulfillment (read my review here) are loaded with extensive and solid research from the rapidly expanding fields of cognitive therapy and positive psychology.

His latest book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, lives up to its title. Seligman continues to build and expand on his life work. He starts with a radical rethinking of his own studies and results from the flood of new happiness research of the past decade. In Flourish, he writes, "I actually detest the word happiness, which is so overused that it has become meaningless." Seligman goes on to outline what he sees beyond good feelings and smiley faces, "I now think that the topic of positive psychology is well-being, that the gold standard for measuring well-being is flourishing, and that the goal of positive psychology is to increase flourishing. This theory, which I call well-being theory, is very different from authentic happiness theory…"

Seligman centers well-being theory on a "PERMA" framework:

Positive Emotion - happiness and life satisfaction are moved from being the end goals to factors of well-being.
Engagement - when we're in this state of "flow," time flies by as thoughts and feelings are often absent. We then look back later at just how fun or rewarding the activity was.
Relationships - acts of kindness, connecting with others, and sharing laughter, joy, pride, or purpose provide deep and lasting feelings of well-being.
Meaning - feeling we're part of something much bigger or serving a greater purpose than ourselves.
Accomplishment - goals such as money, fame, winning, or mastery that we pursue for their own sake whether or not they bring positive emotion, stronger relationships, or meaning.

The PERMA elements of our well-being are maximized when they align with our highest strengths. Flourish provides an appendix of twenty-four VIA (Values in Action) Signature Strengths. Seligman and his colleagues developed these as the foundation for positive psychology to counterbalance the decades old mental illness or "sickness model." Minimizing misery is the path of psychiatry that traces back to Freud and is still deeply entrenched in many psycho therapy disciplines and treatments. Go to www.authentichappiness.com to take the Signature Strengths questionnaire -- among many other excellent personal assessment and development tools provided there free with registration.

Seligman's work is deeply grounded in extensive research and science. This is especially evident in Flourish with 50 pages of fine print footnotes. His evidence-based approach clearly sets Flourish apart from most personal growth books puffed up with fluffy theories and wild claims. However, it will make harder reading for some readers, having to sift through the academic approaches and citations for many of the practical nuggets, application exercises, and personal growth insights buried throughout the book.

Flourish covers a lot of ground in the rapidly expanding field of positive psychology. Seligman reports on the development of the new Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) degree program that he leads at the University of Pennsylvania. The program's mission is to "combine cutting-edge scholarship with the application of knowledge to the real world." He also provides chapters on breakthroughs in teaching well-being to young people, a new theory of intelligence (very similar to the work in emotional intelligence), and the biology of optimism (click here to read an excerpt of this chapter).

Flourish has two chapters dealing with a huge project Seligman and his colleagues have with the U.S. Army to provide Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and Master Resilience Training to hundreds of thousands. One goal is converting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) into Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). You can read a bit more on this from my previous blog post Building our Resilience in Facing the F-Word.

Seligman concludes Flourish with his "moon shot objective" (inspired by President JF Kennedy's audacious goal declared in 1961 to land on the moon by the end of the decade) of PERMA 51. This chapter proposes a new approach to the politics and economics of well-being with new measures of a country's prosperity based on the PERMA indicators. PERMA 51 is "the long mission for positive psychology. By the year 2051, 51 percent of the people of the world will be flourishing."

By applying PERMA to our own lives -- and using these concepts in our parenting, coaching, leading, and developing others -- we can all benefit from "shooting for the moon."

Thoughts That Make You Go Hmmmm… on Flourishing from Martin Seligman

A few key excerpts from Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being:

"When asked what, in two words or fewer, positive psychology is about, Christopher Peterson, one of its founders, replied, 'Other people.' Very little that is positive is solitary… Other people are the best antidote to the downs of life and the single most reliable up."

"That we are drawn by the future rather than just driven by the past is extremely important and directly contrary to the heritage of social science and the history of psychology. It is, nevertheless, a basic and implicit premise of positive psychology."

"Going slow allows executive function to take over. Executive function consists of focusing and ignoring distractions, remembering and using new information, planning action and revising the plan, and inhibiting fast, impulsive thoughts and actions."

"Self-discipline outpredicts IQ for academic success by a factor of 2."

"Resilience, at least among young civilians, can be taught. This was the main thrust of positive education, and we had found that depression, anxiety, and conduct problems could be reduced among children and adolescents through resilience training… if we want health, we should concentrate on building resilience -- psychologically and physically -- particularly among young people."

"It's all too commonplace not to be mentally ill but to be stuck and languishing in life. Positive mental health is a presence: the presence of positive emotion, the presence of engagement, the presence of meaning, the presence of good relationships, and the presence of accomplishment. Being in a state of mental health is not merely being disorder free; rather it is the presence of flourishing."

"I believe that history is the account of human progress and that you have to be blinded by ideology not to see the reality of this progress. Balky, with fits and starts, the moral and economic envelop of recorded history is, nevertheless, upward… in the twentieth century, the bloodiest of all our centuries, we defeated fascism and communism, we learned how to feed six billion people, we created universal education and universal medical care. We raised real purchasing power more than fivefold. We extended the life span. We began to curb pollution and care for the planet, and we made huge inroads into racial, sexual, and ethnic injustice. The age of the tyrant is coming to an end, and the age of democracy has taken root… what gift will the twenty-first century pass to our posterity?"

Our Dell Dance to the ‘Bureaucratic Boogie’ Highlights a Common Service Breakdown

The CLEMMER Group has been purchasing our computer equipment from Dell since we began in 1994. We like their technology, customizing equipment to our needs, value, and next day onsite service. That may change. I just got off the phone from a painful hour of experiencing Dell's inward focused bureaucracy as Gary, our IT support guy, and I purchased a notebook computer for Heather.

After building the system we wanted through their web site, we called their business line to ask a few final questions and place the order. That's when we were told that this model was only available through their consumer's line. So we were transferred. For sixty frustrating minutes, we were bounced back and forth between four different agents, half of whom were very difficult to understand. We were cut off, and left on hold for extended periods of time as the different agents in sales, customer service and finance tried to reconcile our simple request with their specific department requirements. It was a lot of work to get someone to take our money.

An hour later, we finally succeeded in purchasing the computer we'd already pre-built!

Sound familiar? Everyone did his or her job. But the customer was made to dance to that old familiar tune, "The Bureaucratic Boogie." Like so many organizations, Dell is clearly organized for its own convenience rather than for their customers'. Looking from the inside out, everyone did his or her job. Looking from the outside in, we were greeted with a confusing mish–mash of departments and "customer service agents (an oxymoron?)" Like the proverbial elephant, each agent has his or her arms around one leg, but only the customer sees the whole animal.

A previous post, The Three Rings of Perceived Value: An Integrated Customer Focus showed our service/quality model with the Basic Product/Service (notebook computer and onsite service) as the inner ring. It was in the next two rings (Support and Enhanced Service) that we experienced the big break down. Our Dell dance was an example of how customers often experience the Three Rings exactly opposite to the way people inside an organization look at them. Customers start on the outside and move into the Basic Product from the Third Ring. If the Third Ring is large, first impressions will be very positive. That builds great momentum as customers move into the inner rings. Even the odd failure in one of the inner rings will be forgiven if everyone is delighting customers in the outer ring of Enhanced Service.

Understanding the intertwined relationship among the Three Rings is at the heart of Toyota's remarkable sales growth in the past two decades. Back in the late eighties customer research by Toyota Motor Sales USA showed that "those customers who have a positive sales experience are more likely to also have a positive service experience." Toyota's research showed that when customers rated their sales experience as positive, 84% went on to rate their service experience as positive. But of those who had a negative sales experience, only 43% rated their subsequent service experience as positive.

Toyota's customer research illustrates how product, support, and enhanced service all blur together for customers into one total experience -- good, bad, or otherwise. When a Toyota customer had a good sales and service experience the intention to repurchase from that dealer was 85%. However, if those same customers have both a bad sales and a bad service experience, their likelihood of repurchasing from that dealer is just 1%!! Robert Schrandt, then Vice President Customer Relations, explained how this research proves that the outer rings profoundly influence the inner product ring; "The quality of the sales and service experience not only determines where customers will purchase their next vehicle, but whether they'll purchase a Toyota at all. Customers having a good sales and service experience have intent to repurchase Toyotas of 83% versus only 38% if those experiences are bad."

A critical part of the journey to higher customer perceived value -- as well as cost reduction -- is breaking down the "vertical chimneys" or silos between departments. This means looking at customer, production, and support processes from the inside out as they flow across functional and departmental boundaries.�

As we've seen with cars over the past few decades, it's getting harder for computer companies to differentiate their core products like desktop or notebook computers. An ever more crowded field of competitors is engaged in a "price and features" race in the inner ring. If Dell can refocus their sales and service from the outside in they'll have a major growth edge. If not, customers like me will go find a company that gets it.

Strong Leaders Harness the Power of Spirit and Meaning

We regularly review our seven Timeless Leadership Principles in our workshops while participants assess how well they feel they're doing with each one, and which of the Principles they'd most like to improve. The one that scores number one or two on participant priority lists for improvement is Mobilizing and Energizing. Supervisors, managers, and executives want ways to "motivate" or move their team members to higher performance.

The Principle that consistently ranks near the bottom is Spirit and Meaning. Yet it's one of the most powerful and enduring ways to foster extraordinary effort. Most managers don't appreciate what this Principle really entails and it's incredible potential to energize. An outstanding article laced with plenty of supporting research in June's Harvard Business Review not only proves the enormous power of this Principle, but also provides many practical examples.

In How Customers Can Rally Your Troops, Adam Grant, management professor at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School explains that:

"There's a wealth of evidence that people want to do meaningful work: In national surveys over the past three decades, the vast majority of Americans have identified meaningful work as the single most important feature that they seek in a job. And numerous researchers have found that people are concerned not only about themselves but also about doing work that benefits others and contributes to society."

Here are a few of the examples Grant provides in his very powerful article:

  • "A five-minute meeting with a student who had received a scholarship motivated university fundraisers to increase their weekly productivity by 400%.
  • A photograph of a patient drove radiologists to improve the accuracy of their diagnostic findings by 46%.
  • Wells Fargo managers show bankers videos of people describing how low-interest loans rescued them from severe debt -- a vivid reminder to the bankers that they are striving to serve their customers, not their managers.
  • St. Luke's Hospital hosts a Night of Heroes event, during which patients are reconnected with the trauma teams that saved their lives and all team members are honored for their contributions.
  • Facebook flies in users from around the country to meet with engineers and share how the site has reconnected them to family and friends.
  • At Ritz Carlton hotels around the world, employees meet daily for 15 minutes to share 'wow' stories about going the extra mile to make a difference in customers' lives."

The reason Mobilizing and Energizing is rated so much higher than Spirit and Meaning is often because supervisors, managers, and executives are searching for external factors (incentives or recognition programs are popular crutches) that can push people to higher performance. That's really management, not leadership.

Strong leaders create environments that fan the flames of internal motivation. Showing team members how the work they do contributes to a greater cause, touches lives, and really makes a difference is an incredibly powerful energy source.

Tweet Reading: Recommended Online Resources

This section summarizes last month's LinkedIn Updates and Twitter Tweets sent about online articles or blog posts that I've flagged as worth reading. These are usually posted on weekends when I am doing much of my reading for research, learning, or leisure.

My original tweet commenting on the article precedes each title and descriptor from the original source:

A timely article that illustrates the old adage "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

The Internet Changes Everything -- Except Four Things – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

"With all the talk of revolution, disruption, and really big change, I was struck by the things that are not changing -- or at least, not yet."

Background on a psychology pioneer who laid the cornerstones of the four quadrant communication/social/leadership style models widely used today.

To Kindle a Light in the Darkness – Deborah�Huso

"World-renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung's theories on spiritual meaning changed our views on human motivation."

Involved leadership of senior management in the implementation process is critical to using these seven steps.

Seven Leadership Actions that Accelerate Execution – Jocelyn Davis

"If your organization can achieve a higher than 30 percent success rate in its strategic initiatives -- even if it achieves only a 50 or even 40 percent success rate -- it will actually join an elite group of execution stars."

Connecting teams making products or supporting frontline servers to end customers taps into our deep need for meaningful work.

The open secrets of employee motivation – Julian Birkinshaw and Simon Caulkin

"Employees can easily go along their daily routines without much insight on the people buying their products, but exposing them to customers can serve as a powerful motivator."

Now Available in French, Portuguese, and Spanish: The Leader's Digest

You can now purchase The Leader's Digest in French, Portuguese, and Spanish through our web site, or from your favorite bookseller:

Read It Here or Hot Off My Blog

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Feedback and Follow-Up

I am always delighted to hear from readers of The Leader Letter with feedback, reflections, suggestions, or differing points of view. Nobody is ever identified in The Leader Letter without their permission. I am also happy to explore customized, in-house adaptations of any of my material for your team or organization. Drop me an e-mail at Jim.Clemmer@Clemmer.net or connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, or my blog!

Keep learning, laughing, loving, and leading - living life just for the L of it!!


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