A coaching is trying to figure out how to report the outcomes of the coaching process to her boss. Not unusual. Organizations and bosses want to know what they’re getting for their money when they retain a coach. Many organizations require some indication that something has changed for the better: that the leader is more effective for the time and money spent.
It’s difficult to quantify the impact of the behavior changes, at least in the short run. Did the leader’s new ability to take a deep breath and ask questions before barking a directive substantially impact the bottom line? Did a leader’s ability to pinpoint a micro-managing style and instantly shift approach result in increased sales? How about a technical expert promoted to leadership who has learned to move away from solving everyone’s problems to transferring his skill and knowledge into developing expertise in others? What about the leader who avoided conflict or quelled controversy who now invites divergent points of view to be explored and understood? Will this new approach lead to innovation and new products or improved service?
I hope you will take 18 minutes to watch and listen to Daniel Pink. I find his work thrilling and challenging, and he has a great sense of humor. Organizations are searching to find the key to unlocking employee engagement and motivation. Motivational strategies, tools, tips, techniques, developing better leaders all, I believe come back to essentials: autonomy, mastery, purpose. Autonomy – I have the freedom to do the work; I have the environment, tools, skills acquisition to master the work and achieve excellence; the work has meaning and significance and through it, I can make a difference in service to something or someone greater than myself.
In our current economy, it is easy to retrench into fear and focus on all the reasons the lofty notions of autonomy, mastery and purpose won’t work or are impractical. It is easy to use the current realities of policies, procedures, organizational or economic constraints as excuses for why things can’t change. It is easy to get lost in the same old way of doing things without any real results. Witness current budget and deficit talks on Capitol Hill.
Every so often I revisit this TED talk by Daniel Pink. I need the reminder that even though our circumstances might change, inherently who we are as human beings doesn’t. What we each care deeply about, our desires to be engaged fully in things that matter and in the service of others, and the freedom to pursue excellence – it’s what most of us want.