Not long ago I found myself in the drive through of a certain fast food...I mean "quick service"...restaurant that specializes in serving chicken. While sitting by the drive through window, I noticed they had a board on the wall tracking their goals. In the blank where they write in their "Speed of Service" goal were the words "JJ Fast." Just to make sure I wasn't assuming too much, I inquired if the "JJ" stood for Jimmy John's. Indeed it did. I knew there was a better than average chance that "JJ" referred to Jimmy John's (as opposed to JJ from the 1970's sitcom Good Times). Why? Because the Jimmy John's sandwich chain has an uncanny ability to make their sandwiches fast. And by fast I mean nearly instantaneously. Which leads us to a few questions today...
Are we leading our teams to become so good at what we do that everyone sees us as the measuring stick? Are our organizations becoming so effective that even our competitors say out loud, "We want to be like them"? As leaders, these are important questions for us consider because their answers tap into deeply seeded energy within those we lead.
The people we lead, like all humans, have a natural desire to contribute to something uniquely valuable. Though some of our followers may have had that desire beat down in them through life's experiences, it is still inherently part of being human. Author Dan Pink has referred to this motivational factor within us as "purpose." Psychologist Fredrick Herzberg explained it in his work on Two-Factor Theory as the desire to achieve and be recognized for that achievement. Regardless of what you call it, it lives within each one of us.
Being known as the best in a unique and meaningful aspect of your work doesn't necessarily need to be an external measure. Perhaps the most valuable goal your team could achieve would be to become the most responsive department in your organization or the best communicators within your division. Any goal that represents a meaningful status or achievement can be internally motivational to those you lead. And if you're not crystal clear on what that goal should be, you might be well-served to involve your team in helping to choose it. Such actions add a valuable dose of ownership to the motivation mix.
The Gauntlets We Love
So what gauntlets will you and those you lead attempt to navigate in 2015? What exciting and strategic standards will you develop, articulate, and aim resources at in order to achieve?
The desire to achieve something special is core to the human experience. As leaders, if we aren't leveraging it with strategically chosen goals, we are leaving valuable motivational resources on the table. When we understand and tap into inherent human motivation to produce something special, we not only achieve more, but the experience of doing it is more satisfying, both for us and for those we lead.
Share Your Thoughts: Have you ever been a part of team that became the know as "the best"? What were you the best at? How did you achieve that title? And what was it like to be a part of that team? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation by clicking here.
This is our final blog entry for 2014. Join us after the New Year to kickoff a new season of leadership development. Thanks to all who have joined us in 2014. Thank you for making The Aperio a part of your lives and leadership.
Click here to receive free postings from Tim Spiker and The Aperio. As a thank you, you'll receive the first two chapters of The Only Leaders Worth Following: Why Some Leaders Succeed, Others Fail, and How the Quality of Our Lives Hangs in the Balance.