Each of us stands on the shoulders of those who came before us. Here are five* TED Talks that inspire my views on work, leadership, and Talent.
"There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does."
This is probably one of my favorite lines from any TED talk. So often we make choices about how to treat people and situations based on anecdotal evidence or old business models. We should instead consider experimenting and tracking the data/performance.
I'm also a huge proponent of Dan's "big three" -- Purpose, Mastery, and Autonomy. When it comes to helping your colleagues and peers utilize our unique talents, keep the following in mind:
Just as the 21st century military is finding new approaches to new threats (e.g. decentralized command-and-control organizations and cyber-warfare), businesses and organizations need to rethink old management models.
What I appreciate about this talk is Gen. McChrystal's willingness to:
I've, on occasion, picked up the moniker "the 'why' kid"; so imagine my delight when I found Simon Sinek advocating that "why" is the most important question we can ask.
Why do you exist? Why do you do what you do?
Our distinct talents can only be fully realized if we can understand why they are important and how they be useful in accomplishing our life's work.
As each of us searches for connection -- whether at home or work -- we must keep in mind that we must be vulnerable. All of us must be willing to share our blessings and our faults so that we can live an authentic life.
In our organizations could this not be a deciding factor when we consider who we choose to be our organizational leaders?
Okay, so my fifth favorite TED Talk actually comes in two parts. I love Sir Ken Robinson, and I think the lessons he points out regarding our educational system can also be applied to our work environments.
In his 2006 talk he speaks about how our educational system kills creativity and pushes children to squander their unique talents. Robinson initially points out that "intelligence is diverse...dynamic....and distinct." The same can be said for our Talents.
This makes Robinson's follow up 2010 talk about the importance of "using our talents" all the more critical. The world of work is changing faster than ever before and it is making the old world of human management obsolete.
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." - Abraham Lincoln, 1862
Just as Abraham Lincoln spoke of the "old ways" when it came to slavery; we must realize that old command-and-control HR systems of the past are inadequate for the future of work. We must think anew and act anew by engaging our Talents in new ways as the world of work changes. We do not need reform but a revolution.
So last week I wrote about the importance of acknowledging people beyond the paycheck. This week I'm going to talk about the second pillar of donor relations - impact reporting - and how the same idea can help you build a more engaged workforce.
One of my favorite TED talks of all is Daniel Pink's "Puzzle of Motivation" (watch below). In it he speaks about the importance of purpose. Impact reporting is one way to demonstrate fulfillment of purpose. Let me explain...
Most donors give with a particular purpose in mind. It might be providing education to deserving students, saving an endangered species or the rain forest, curing a disease, or improving their community. Most donors also realize that it's not going to happen over night; thus, you need to inform them periodically about how they've helped the organization move closer to fulfilling the goal. Many non-profits do this through impact pieces like this one from Cook Children's Health Foundation.
Employees (on the whole) are likely looking to do the same. They want their work to mean something; to fulfill a purpose. As Daniel Pink states,
Purpose [is] the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
What better way for an employer to recognize this truly human desire, than to show employees how they are impacting not only the company, but also the greater world? So many non-profits spend time constructing impact communications for external constituents (donors, volunteers, board members, etc.). What if all employers spent a little more time demonstrating how each employee is contributing to fulfilling the organization's vision, mission, and business objectives.
Since I write primarily for a Vermont audience, I have to add that I think this is the perfect state to start such a movement. So many of our companies are small enough, and we work in close-knit communities. I think it would be fantastic if we took the time to recognize the contributions of our fellow employees. It could also be inspiring to see how such a small state (and the companies that operate here) are making an impact on some of today's biggest issues.
What better way to take human resources beyond the next benefits form, and show genuine interest and gratitued in your workforce.
How are you showing the connection between your employees' efforts and your company's success?
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