Organizations infused with aliveness are on fire they’re performing at their best, they’re at the top of their game, and their customers and workers are the winners.
Sadly, life, passion, engagement, commitment—aliveness—at work is waning. Only about 30 percent are engaged in their jobs, that is, they work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. Most people (about 70 percent) are not engaged, or committed to their work or to their companies. Companies are full of far too many Dead People Working!
Many people feel trapped in their jobs, complaining about their jobs, or daydreaming about getting new ones.
These are the dead people working, putting time but not energy or passion into their work. About 1 in 6 workers is actively disengaged. These bad apples act out their unhappiness in creative ways, undermining what their engaged coworkers have done. They’re not just dead—they’re taking everyone they touch to the grave with them.
Why We Must Change
But, you say, “Aren’t we doing okay? Can’t we just continue with the status quo?” No, you can’t for four reasons:
- If you simply maintain the status quo, you’re falling behind—and fast! Your competition will leave you in the dust. And once you figure out just how far behind you are, it’s already too late—you’ll never be able to catch up.
- The competition is no longer local—it’s global. For every domestic competitor, there are 10 out in the world who are ready to eat your lunch. They don’t pay the high overhead costs you pay; they don’t pay the salaries, benefits, and taxes that you pay; they don’t worry about family-friendly workplaces, flexible schedules, and fitness centers.
- Nobody wants to contribute to a workplace where people are dehumanized and dying. We were made to live big, rich, full lives—including our lives at work. It’s difficult, if not impossible to foster creativity, innovation, and world-class products and services if people aren’t fully alive at work.
- All leaders must awaken those who are hiding, tucked away, sleepwalking through work and life. Do not ignore them! Most people fear dying without a sense of having made a difference—without having left a mark. Leaders have to shake people up, wake them up, and invite them to reflect more, and leave a mark before it’s too late. When asked to reflect back on their life, most older people say that they would risk more, reflect more, engage in things that live beyond them, and be more purposeful in leaving a legacy. As leaders we need to lead dead people working back to life! So, step up to the plate and lean into your legacy
Cure: 3 Ss and 17 Prescriptions
When you are sick, you head to the doctor in hope for a cure. Often the doctor gives you a prescription—the so called cure. The prescription is meant to assist and speed-up the restoration process. While the medicine may not taste good, and while it may even cause some unwanted temporary side effects, it is, in the long run, good for you. Hopefully, by taking the medicine, you soon become healthier, feel more fully alive, and get back to normal life.
The cure for Dead People Working involves a series of prescriptions that I create three major conditions: Applied in a consistent and tenacious way, these three conditions set the foundation for leading Dead People back to life.
S1. Strong, gutsy leadership (mining the best in you).
Author Jim Collins describes great leaders ( “level 5 leaders”) as “modest and willful, humble and fearless.” We call level 5-leadership, Gutsy leadership. Gutsy leaders exude four qualities: 1) they are self-effacing servants to their team and their company; they are rich in character; 2) they are accomplished, competent, calculated and capable in experience and knowledge; 3) they are purposeful and dedicated to getting results and making things happen; and 4) they are esteemed and respected by those they lead.
Here are seven prescriptions for gutsy leadership:
- Lift up your values. Gutsy leaders live their values out loud everyday.
- Lift up your people. Gutsy leaders always put their people first.
- Lift up your heroes. Gutsy leaders honor, affirm and reward their people.
- Lift up your stories. Gutsy leaders tell stories that set expectations.
- Lift up your time. Gusty leaders spend time with their people and ask the right questions.
- Lift up your money. Gusty leaders know how to spend money wisely.
- Lift up your faith. Gusty leaders surround themselves with competent people and then get out of the way.
S2: Strong, robust culture (mining the best in your organization).
Culture is not a program, a 10-step formula, a fancy slogan, logo-ware, expensive artwork, extravagant perks, or ergonomically correct office accommodations. Culture is how people in and through relationships live desired values out-loud in subtle ways daily.
And a strong, robust culture is purposeful and intentional, healthy and hardy. It is built to be sturdy and durable even in the midst of animosity, tribulation, tough times, and intense competition. A robust culture is rooted in legacy, mission, vision, values, convictions and practices. People are fully alive at work and creating remarkable results!
Here are five prescriptions for a strong, robust culture:
- Shape your values. Promote and protect your values.
- Shape your stories. How, what, why, and when you communicate matters.
- Shape your celebrations. What, why and how you celebrate matters.
- Shape your space. Company artifacts matter, environment matters, color matters, clothing matters.
- Shape your lingo. Words, language and titles matter.
S3: Strong, self-confident people (mining the best in your people).
Gutsy leaders hang on to great talent. Talented people are tough to find. If you have them, you must serve them well. Talented people want to stretch, grow and develop! They want to be fully alive at work, make a difference, and have a sense of fulfillment. The more confident people become, the more passion and aliveness they will bring to work. Self-confidence is built on a powerful mixture of competence (wisdom, knowledge, skills, experience), significance (work that is meaningful, memorable and makes a contribution), adventure (the ability to take risks and survive), resilience (the ability to bounce back from disappointment and defeat), and the deep-seated understanding that people believe in you (an unwavering commitment from others to find the best in you and draw it out).
Here are five prescriptions for developing strong, self-confident people:
- Stretch their minds. Grow their capacity to make a difference.
- Strengthen their projects. Engage them in work that matters.
- Expand their comfort zone. Make it safe to risk more and fail faster.
- Raise their resilience. Think optimistically and overcome adversity.
- Discover their greatness. Identify talents and awaken their dreams.
Get all your low-perfoming employees engaged to make a greater contribution