Will Americans ever celebrate worker “Fulfillment Day,” rather than Labor Day? As we observe the 124th Labor Day this week, the dark clouds from 100+ years ago still appear to obscure the horizons of most Americans.
According to the New York Times, President Grover Cleveland signed Labor Day into law in 1894, not to celebrate the triumph of American workers, but rather as a political ploy to help appease frustrated workers who fueled a national transportation crisis that resulted from rail and transportation strikes.
Sadly, it seems most Americans continue to view their work as a source of drudgery. According to the Gallup organization some 70% of American workers do not like their jobs and dread Monday mornings.
It does not need to be this way! We, as Americans, can do better!
Consider the 30% of Americans who DO like their jobs and feel engaged in their work. Gallup’s data makes it clear that the more fortunate 30% are not happier because they work for organizations with greater social value or purpose. Rather, these smiling faces are somewhat evenly spreads across organizations that range from mundane manufacturing and services sectors to the more socially focused clean energy and healthcare sectors.
So what gives? And how can we Americans move the needle to create more smiles on Monday mornings?
Again, the Gallup data (corroborated by many other publications) provides guidance. Workers who associate with a organizational purpose, larger than their own self interests head the class of the fortunate 30%. It seems these individuals view Monday mornings as more of a team gathering and less of a time to punch the clock. Moreover, one’s attachment to a organizational purpose breeds loyalty and creates the desire to not let others down by underperforming in your role. That’s engaging! If we could drive those attitudes deeper into our working society we could flip the percentages and move toward 70% of American workers feeling engaged. Who knows, perhaps one day we could even celebrate “Fulfillment Day” rather than “Labor Day!”
How then do leaders create a culture that attaches workers to a shared purpose, breeding a sense of loyalty and team? Fusion Leadership Unleashing The Movement of Monday Morning Enthusiasts attempts to provide these answers. As the title implies, Fusion Leaders seek to “fuse” workers together around the organization’s purpose, offering workers the alternative of connecting to something larger than any one individual. Eight nationally recognized leaders known for their success in building remarkable organizations on the foundation of engaged-employees, share practical, every-day stories that inform the Fusion Leadership journey.
Simply put, Fusion Leaders are those who place their selfish ego needs and their organization’s collective ego needs on the same level of importance. They are self-aware enough to understand that working for the greater good of an organization (the collective ego) actually benefits them (the selfish ego).
Recognizing that the potential of a committed team vastly exceeds the potential of any single individual, Fusion Leaders obsess over the question of how to earn the following and loyalty of those in their charge? And this desire to earn the following of their teams explains why the Fusion Leader makes it a priority to balance the needs of their selfish ego with those of their organization’s collective ego.
People become demoralized when they conclude that they are showing up on Monday morning in order to enrich and empower the executives.
Sadly, it seems some 70% of America’s leaders think that their mere title and position of power, by itself, is sufficient to earn the following of those in their charge. These leaders think nothing of behaving in ways that signal to their employees that the success of the organization hinges on their brilliance and raw managerial capacity. Think of those organizations that operate under the name of the founder. Think about those organizations where the CEO pays himself or herself two, three or, in some cases, over 10 times more than the others on their team. Think about those meetings where the leader stands in front of the room and dominates the meeting with their charisma and brilliance. While there are successful organizations that operate under this brand of leadership, these leaders run the risk of communicating to their employees that they don’t matter, or worse, that they show up every Monday morning just to enrich the guy or gal whose name is on the top of the building. Talk about deflating!
Like any leader, Fusion Leaders work to advance the Mission of their organization. But how they do this is unique. They seek opportunities to demonstrate that they value the Mission of the organization at an equal level to the value they place on their own self-interests. In effect, they seek to “fuse” their organization together around the Mission. Now that is inspiring!
Fusion Leaders prioritize those behaviors that bring teams together over those behaviors that drive people away. Modeling daily behavior that evidences the Fusion Leader’s prioritization of the Mission fosters trust among a team. Individual team members grow to trust that even the hard decisions are being made in the best interests of the organization.
Once the Fusion Leader earns the loyal following of his or her team, they are in a position to set the performance bar even higher and demand great results. Members of a “fused” team do not want to let each other down and will more readily “step up” to meet the higher expectations of the Fusion Leader.
This process of “fusing” teams together around the Mission, then demanding higher and higher results creates a virtuous, repeating process that builds a culture of “winners”. This, in turn helps employees feel fulfilled by their work and wanting to contribute more to the organization. They’ll actually want to come to work on Monday morning!