Psychologist Thema Davis summed up the results of the difficult choice of standing up for something important: “Some people don’t like you just because your strength reminds them of their weakness. Don’t let the hate slow you down.”
Map over Davis’s quote to leadership and the nuances bear an important reminder: leadership isn’t a position but action with the intention to motivate and inspire people to achieve something of value. And it’s this reminder that one of our League of Extraordinary Thinkers had us chew on recently. Dana Theus wrote an important mini-series, The Values Revolution, that dared leaders and managers to look into why employees want to leave their jobs.
Why employees want to leave your company
What I enjoyed about Dana’s mini-series is she didn’t regurgitate the same logic to conclude why your employees want to or are leaving your company.
1) Value misalignment trend
The trends that lead to employees going one direction with the organization the other reflect the outdated lens through which most managers and leaders look at the employment contract. The unwillingness to update how we ask employees to compartmentalize their personal from their professional lives is antiquated and ridiculous. With the proliferation of mobile technology, employees are constantly stepping in and out of both worlds. It’s lazy leadership to not recognize the influence this has on workplace realities.
Unwillingness to update how we ask employees to compartmentalize their personal from their professional lives is antiquated and ridiculous
Dana expands on the trend of values misalignment in a way that gets us to really see what trends are shaping the workplace and why we need to see and respond quickly if we want to keep employees from bolting out the door.
2) Macho leadership is outdated
The skills leaders need to rely on for business in the 21st century are more feminine in nature. In their phenomenal book, Athena Doctrine, authors John Gerzema and Michael D’ Antonio expound that “emphasizing cooperation, communication, and sharing,” are leadership actions that lead to prosperity in today’s hyper connected workplaces. These are, in many cases, the antithesis of what we see in business environments today.
Employees are exhausted by the cut-throat, grab what you can, self-centered leadership and management actions that have dominated 20th century business and have too often characterized the path to which results were achieved.
Employees are exhausted by the cut-throat, grab what you can, self-centered leadership
Employees are leaving seeking workplaces that value people and outcomes grounded in purpose and meaning.
3) Shift in value needed
Dana presents a compelling list of values suitable for the 21st century that move beyond the ambiguous words of integrity, teamwork and excellence. Their overuse and absence in their underwhelming appearance in too many organizations has unfortunately removed all meaning from such important values.
What’s to say the same won’t happen for the the values included in Dana’s list? It’s possible their meaning becomes empty, too. However, the argument Dana makes about a Values Revolution places responsibility on the individual leader to own their response to the abysmal work environment that is suffocating our workplaces. The values serve as a north star to navigating life-sucking workplaces to discover joy, optimism and possibility at work. It’s no longer up to the organization to indoctrinate its values onto its employees. It really never was. Values come to life in the daily interactions between a company’s employees. And the greatest influence over this is a team’s manager. Imagine if more managers took on the responsibility to educate, model and hold and create a space for a company’s values to align with our personal values. Such a vision would transform relationships and spread across teams throughout an organization in an organic manner. Forget about assimilation. It’s about inspiration: Inspiring how we relate and work together based wholly on how we are wired as human beings through connection and relationship-building.
Leaders must own their response to the abysmal work environment that is suffocating our workplaces
In the end, Dana’s Value Revolution series is a call to action for all of us to reverse the unfortunate effects of outdated leadership on the relationships and the results needed for a business to thrive in today’s dynamic workplace. Employees are leaving your workplace because it is not suitable for people.
The nuggets Dana presents need to be chewed on and then acted on. It’s important reading for all leaders who want more from their role and from their positive influence on those with whom they work.
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