Interchange - February 2024
The subject for next week’s Interchange session will be the second part of the formula for engagement laid out in our book; Empowerment. Below is a brief from the overview of the book as a thought starter:
The so-called Great Resignation was caused by years of pent-up resignation. People had a life altering experience in the COVID pandemic, reassessed their lives, and chose to walk away from jobs about which they felt resignation. So they resigned.
According to Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs, all human beings strive for self-actualization—the fulfillment of one’s potential to make a difference or impact the world. This human impulse is why engagement is so important. When we feel that we are serving a purpose that doesn’t make an impact on the world that’s important to us, or when we lack the authority or empowerment to make a difference, resignation sets in.
The Great Resignation may be in the rearview mirror, but there is a lesson to be learned from it:
When people feel resigned, if they have a choice, they will resign!
A Formula for Engagement
The two factors we described above, meaningless work and powerlessness, result in resignation. This premise lead us to a simple formula for engagement:
Engagement = Aspiration + Empowerment
People who possess a compelling, aspirational purpose are energized to make an impact. We use the term purpose as a general term to include what might be called a vision, mission, goal, and so on. All great leaders aspire to some purpose that compels them to action. This same energy is what fuels exceptional, engaged organizations.
To be empowered is to possess permission to use our talents, creativity, judgment; to utilize the full measure of our capabilities in the service of an aspirational purpose. Some people take this permission themselves, like entrepreneurs, while others need it to be granted, even encouraged to accept it. People who are empowered to unleash their creativity and exercise their judgment, and who are granted the authority to make decisions necessary to accomplish the purpose to which they aspire, experience fulfillment.”
In our session, we will explore the nature of engagement, and explore how you might foster greater levels of empowerment in your people. Below are a few questions for discussion. I suggest that we explore not just what are you already doing, but what creative ideas you might come up with…how can you empower yourself , and one another to think differently?
Assuming you are looking to magnify or increase empowerment in your organization, how might you give greater levels of permission to take initiative, make decisions, and be creative, to people throughout your organization?
As the article above says, some people need great encouragement to take authority, initiative etc. They are reticent, or afraid to make decisions. You know, the ones’ who delegate up. How might you support them in growing their courage and confidence?
How might you use inspirational leadership, to create aspiration and leverage it to help achieve 1 & 2 above.
What do you see as the practical limits of empowerment, at what point does the risk outweigh the reward? This is a chance to challenge one another’s assumptions.
I look forward to seeing all of you. Let me know if you have any questions or need anything else.
P.S. If you are interested in further depth on the subject here are a few books that treat this subject with a different way of thinking: Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan, and Team of Teams by Stanley McChrystal.