Last Year, I published my first book. At the time, I thought the bull’s eye tied in nicely with taking aim and with the cannon I have in my logo. Little did I realize how useful this little graphic would become. I was also beginning to understand how decision-making in organizations and leadership are so closely tied together.
This past year, the bull’s eye has evolved in my mind to being a metaphor for the evolution in management and leadership that faces us all. Understanding this bull’s eye not only shows the evolution of leadership, but also helps us as leaders to optimize human performance in our organizations.
For years, organizations hired “bodies”, the outer ring of the bulls eye. We needed an extra pair of hands to accomplish more. With this mindset, managers would try to “goof proof” the job so that it might be handled by the lowest common denominator.
Is it any wonder that these lowest common denominator employees hated their jobs? Is it any surprise that they joined unions? Yes, there were enlightened leaders who had happy employees in the past just as there are old school employers who still hire bodies or an extra pair of hands and wonder why their employees are not happy.
It has been possible to survive with this approach to management in the past, but those days are rapidly coming to an end. Workers who are the offspring of depression era parents are much more likely to endure this type of a job than are the youth of today. We are also engaged in a much more competitive work environment and organizations that do not engage and inspire employee’s fully will not survive against organizations that involve the mind and spirit of the employees as well as their hands.
The Japanese understand this and U.S. Manufacturers are learning the benefit of engaging people’s minds as they undertake kaizen projects in their operations. Involving people in decisions about their work can and does pay huge dividends for those organizations willing to give it a try. While utilizing the mind and body of employees is a huge step forward for employers, it is also a great thing for employees. They now are being recognized for their expertise in the work they have been doing and this recognition goes a long way toward improving the work place for both the employer and the employee, not to mention the benefit to the customer.
There is, however, one more step that needs to be undertaken to optimize human performance for the benefit of the employee, the employer and the customer. I have seen organizations like NASCAR race teams that have members that are fully engaged and empowered to do what it takes to succeed. These organizations have reached their members at the spirit level. I think the Marines are on the right track when they talk about Esprit de Corp. Organizations that can reach their employees at all three levels are going to be successful.
A worthwhile vision is one way to reach an organization at the spirit level. If possible involve everyone in the organization in the creation of the vision that is driving your endeavor. Involve them regularly and provide constant positive reminders and updates about the successes as they occur. Recognize and share in the celebration of every accomplishment along the way.
What are you doing to reach your employees minds and spirits?