Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vital Instincts at Work

We are human beings - we need to grow and develop throughout our lifetime to reach our potential. Each of us has a unique set of DNA that unfolds through our interactions with others to shape our destiny.

Vital Conversations

When we join an organization we believe we have been chosen among other candidates because we are "the best fit for the job." And when we join, we create expectations and personal visions of success that we bring to work everyday. Through these beliefs we interact with our colleagues, customers, bosses and friends as we seek to fulfill our dreams and aspirations. We seek recognition and satisfaction at work.

When we achieve our goals and aspirations, we feel good - even great at work. When our goals and aspirations are not met, we can become disenchanted. We live between highs and lows - winning and loosing - feeling valued and undervalued. Sometimes sure, and other times not sure we are the right track for success.

When we join a company, join a team, participate on a project, or accept a new assignment, it is usually because we want to make a contribution. Human beings actually desire to be a part of creating something bigger than they can create alone. It's an instinct, a Vital Instinct.

When our expectations have not been met, some people simply move on, while others remain, sometimes feeling stuck, blocked, frustrated or even angry. Those who have the courage to leave get a chance to begin again; for those who stay, life at work can be a devastating experience. As my colleague Barbara Annis says, "Many people quit and stay."

Those who quit and stay, bring less spirit and commitment to work. Others launch into an inner dialogue of self-destructive beliefs that ultimately lead back to, "the problem must be you, not me." Others lose themselves in less productive pursuits-gossiping, beating up on people, telling tales, or bringing personal stuff to work.

Mirror Images

We uncovered a pattern we call Mirror Images. There are seven primary need-drivers that make people feel great about work - and in fact - feel great anywhere. When these drivers are satisfied in a new job, we are fully satisfied at work. These needs are not always conscious like a ready check list, yet they are encoded into our DNA as something that we seek out when making our career and job choices.

Needs for:
  • Being Included
  • Being Appreciated
  • Being Successful
  • Bring Trusted
  • Being Smart
  • Being Powerful
  • Being with Purpose
These seven needs explain why we take a job and also explain why we leave. They explain what gives us satisfaction, why we feel we want to contribute. When they are met we feel we are achieving our goals and ambitions, contributing creatively, playing a leadership role, and finding work purposeful and meaningful. When these needs are not met, we feel we are missing something important - our reason for being - and our ability to feel good at work dramatically diminishes.

Heroes and Heroines

While we are reaching for the stars, innovating and pioneering, we may, without awareness, step on people's toes, exclude those who need including, and limit the possibility for the advancement and growth of others without fully realizing we are doing so. We become territorial without realizing it and cause each other to mover into "I-centric" protective behavior. We are human beings and when threat to our ego occurs we move to protect ourselves from harm.

In relationships, when we believe we're being taken advantage of, we fight back. So the challenge to every leader is to understand what human nature is all about, and how to create environments that reduce threat and alienation, and provide the context for collaboration, sharing and support. These nutrients feed the human brain's evolution from I to WE, and enable us to co-create with others realizing our most awesome potential.

Try This: Become mindful of what triggers you and others at work. Ask yourself these questions everyday:
  • What causes us to feel stressful work?
  • What causes us to feel conflict with others?
  • What challenges are we facing and how are we dealing with them - alone, or with others?
  • What causes us to become emotional, reactive, angry, aggressive or desiring retreat?
  • And how can we transform our breakdowns into break throughs?

 Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books:

Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386


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