Daniel Goleman: The Secret Antidote to Apathy

My recent post about apathy in the workplace struck a nerve. So let’s look more closely at the leader’s role in motivating a team or organization.

Self-awareness drives self-management. If you’re tuned out, you can’t manage your internal world well. Self-awareness also drives empathy. If you don’t attune to yourself, you won’t be able to attune well to others.

These competencies allow a leader to create resonance and move people with a compelling, authentic vision. A shared common purpose makes work exciting and engaging.

The Power of We

I spoke with Dr. Dan Siegel for my Leadership: A Master Class series about the importance of community in organizations. Dr. Siegel says, ”We’re not meant to live in isolation. Our connectedness creates the self.”

So many leaders seem hapless about why people aren’t motivated. They go about trying to motivate them in the wrong way—which is either to punish them or offer them more external rewards. But a real, long-lasting motivator is internal. They’re engaged by the sense of “we.”

Studies of happiness and well-being show that when you’re a part of a community, you thrive. A leader who is aware of the importance of relationships will create an environment in the organization that engages the worker to put their best foot forward for the common good.

Dr. Siegel adds, “Your brain can actually make a map of “we” so that when you participate in a professional community you realize that you’re on a journey with your teammates. It’s not just what I do for a job. It’s actually my identity. When a leader doesn’t have this in his brain, he may be thinking, ‘Okay, I’m an individual. That worker is an individual. We’re all just individuals participating in this company.’ You can feel the deflation of that. There’s no engagement. Leaders need to realize that relationships are an entity unto themselves. And a company can be a source of fulfilling relationships regardless of departments, job titles or other perceived barriers. It’s like the saying: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Integrate to Motivate

One way to create a sense of community is to integrate the various moving parts of an organization as best you can. Acknowledge that we’re in this together. We’re not in competition with one another. Recognize that each person brings something to the table to enhance the whole organization.

When you start to see the different workers and departments as part of a whole, you’re better able to link them together. They’re not just disparate elements. Just like a choir singing in harmony, a company that’s integrated will generate a vital, energized way of being.

When a company is not integrated it’s going to move either into rigidity—staleness, lack of productivity and innovation—or it’s going to move to chaos, where things are confusing, and there are abrupt, unpredictable shifts.

How do you create a sense of community in your organization? Share your experiences in the comments.

Image: Mibba

Additional Resources

Transform: Habits of Superior Managers

Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide

Resonant Leadership: Inspiring Others Through Emotional Intelligence

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters