In our world of the 21st century, change is the only constant and it can strike like a bolt of lightning. It is a world where the strongest, smartest or richest are superseded by the most adaptable and resilient. Slow, yet major changes are taking place in all levels of business, environment, politics, and technology. To thrive, organizations must develop a new breed of leader. This new leadership spirit has been recognized in annual reports, respected research studies, top MBA programs, and major periodicals. According to the 2010 IBM Creative Leadership Study, “Leaders who embrace the dynamic tension between creative disruption and operational efficiency can create new models of extraordinary value.”
Yet, despite the awareness and research, other studies demonstrate not only an inability to develop creative and entrepreneurial employees, but also a failure to simply engage employees. A recent Towers Perrin Global Workforce study showed that barely 21 percent of employees are engaged in their job, eight percent are fully disengaged and the remaining 71 percent are disenchanted.
The question is not if we need more creative or engaged staff, or where to find them, rather how to tap into the latent force of the 80 percent who are disengaged.
Everyone was born with a dream, a purpose, and a gift. That gift is our essence, our combined mental, physical, emotional, and yes, spiritual abilities. When we tap into our full essence, we are doing what we love, loving what we do, and not working – we are playing. These engaged creative people are easy to spot; they work long hours, run down the hall instead of walk, and are passionate, excited and happy.
Successful entrepreneurs are individuals who are passionate, courageous and determined – and the reason has little, or nothing, to do with materialism. That is the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy and the kind of engaged employees we desperately need are operating closer to the top. They are energized and pumped up because they know they are doing something good, exciting, and serving others. This noble cause is not motivated from their heads, but their hearts.
When an organization taps into this source of energy, the ROI is significant. On the top line productivity and sales go up. On the bottom line, attrition and sick days go down. The book titled, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, written by Dr. Stephen Post, demonstrates the scientific evidence on how compassion, generosity, forgiveness, and other qualities associated with love result in a happier, healthier, and longer life. It is those same qualities and attributes that drive up ROI.
President Theodore Roosevelt summed it up nicely when he said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The modern age knowledge worker is smart, they know if you care and what you care about. They also know when someone is blowing smoke. These knowledge workers also are well aware that intentions are not a secret. They are tapped in. They also are knowledgeable that we are the air we breathe, water we drink and minerals we consume. Survival in the talent and people game will not work in the 21st century with the same old Industrial Age smoke and mirrors. The fastest and best way to work that ROI is to develop leaders who say what they mean, mean what they say, and do it. In other words, they must be congruent, authentic, and transparent, with a healthy does of integrity. Welcome to the great shift in human consciousness where touching hearts and reviving values and virtues are the critical first steps to improving creativity and engagement.
For any CEO who believes the IBM study on creative disruption, the HR department needs two game plans: the inner game and outer game. The inner game plan helps employees on the inner journey of exploration and development to restore or reaffirm self-esteem. The inner game requires a regiment of programs that develop confidence and courage, and allows employees to express their natural creativity through experimentation. The energy source for creativity is passion and it comes from the heart. It is the first essential ingredient for innovation, but it is only one-third of the innovation equation.
After mastering the inner game next is the outer game – meaning, taking that inspiration and turning it into an award-winning, best-selling offering that fulfills a human need. This is the next two thirds of the innovation equation and this energy source comes from the head. That is called ingenuity. The outer game plan takes the heart energy – passion and creativity – and projects that into the realm of practical business to achieve outer (corporate) success. The HR department that masters this two-step plan is applying human essence in a fulfilling career that climbs the hierarchy of social development. It never fails. The secret on how this process works has been known and demonstrated by Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Mozart, and a slew of great visionaries, inventors, authors, painters, and masters.
Houstonian JD Messinger is a four-time world first innovator and an award-winning and best-selling author. He is the former CEO of Ernst & Young Consulting, Singapore, a Distinguished Graduate from Annapolis, and a senior advisor to the Singapore Prime Minister, U.S. presidential candidates, and dignitaries around the world. He may be contacted at JD@JDMessinger.com, www.JDMessinger.com.