Leadership and performance improvement: meshing ideas

By William Seidman Other people’s blogs: jumping-off points and some ideas inspired by my colleagues in performance improvement and leadership. Carrots and sticks: Procrastination fix? By Daniel Pink (author of Drive and  A Whole New Mind). I expected Daniel Pink, in this blog post,  to highlight the apparent absence of purpose in some organizations. In our work with positive deviants and organizational performance improvements, the three elements of what Pink calls “Motivation 3.0” always occur in the same order:

Purpose > mastery > effective autonomy

If you have purpose, people want to get good at something (i.e. mastery) and only then — when there is alignment on purpose and people are good at what they do — can an organization’s leaders allow autonomy. Even things like processing loans can be powerfully linked to purpose, and once the linkage is made, performance improvements are lasting. Purpose drives everything for any lasting performance improvement. Taking The Path of Most Resistance: The Virtues by Bob Sutton This is a very interesting post. We work extensively with performance improvement initiatives in the private sector. There is convincing neuroscience research on positive imagery’s strong impact on performance.  People’s thoughts about what they do and what they want to be able to do, are powerful. What is interesting and frustrating is that people are consistently unwilling to give time to practicing for becoming great (i.e. the path of most resistance). We ask them questions, with a telling result:
  • Would you expect a world-class athlete to work hard to be great? Of course, the answer is “yes.”
  •  What about a world-class musician? Again the answer is yes.
  • What about a world-class manager, teacher, or marketer? Here people know they should say yes, but just can’t bring themselves to say it.
I talk to people who want a Twitter version of greatness: the quick and easy path, when the reality is that greatness comes only by the commitment to work really hard at something — the path of most resistance. Combating the “It’s Not My Job” Mentality by By John Baldoni This is a very interesting post. There really are two underlying issues here:
  • Getting people to stop thinking, “it’s not my job.”
  • When is it reasonable to make such a statement?
In our work doing performance improvement initiatives in major organizations, when the “purpose” of the organization is very clear, it is rare for someone to make this statement. By “purpose” think of Dan Pink’s use of the term as creating a greater social good. In his book Drive, and reinforced by our work with positive deviants, we find that people and organizations who are consistently trying to do something for a greater good tend to be less concerned about the limits and parameters of their jobs and more open to “doing whatever it takes.” On the other hand, purpose also gives people a benchmark for saying “no.” That sense of purpose, well-defined and reinforced by leadership, ensures that an organization can stay focused on what matters and on what will lead to success. Let us know what you’ve been reading.]]>

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