The Secret to Enjoying a Missional Team Mindset

Unlocking Your Why to Engage with Passion

Here’s a vital question for organizational leaders to ask: Are you still on track together, or at some point did everyone get distracted from the core mission, vision, values, and purpose?

Family businesses can be beautiful instances of hard work creating something out of nothing.

They also can be prime examples of what happens when your why gets lost over time.

Grandparents carve a business out of the dirt with blood, sweat, and tears. At some point, the business gets handed off to the kids. When the second generation takes over the business, they know the passion Mom and Dad put into it, so they pour themselves into it.

But, more often than not, the grandkids will put that business in the ditch. Why? Because they didn’t share the purpose and passion or see the price paid by that first generation. They don’t share the passion, but they enjoy the privilege that has been their birthright.

Unfortunately, birthright doesn’t give passion and purpose. That’s why so many organizations, not just family businesses, flounder and lose their way over time. They lose their why.

Find the Why to Find Your Purpose

If you’re a leader of an organization that has lost its way, you must discover where you got off track and how to get back to that place of purpose. Purpose and passion produce the energy required to build an InSPIRED culture.

That’s why TOMS Shoes has been so successful. Yes, they’re selling shoes, but, more importantly, they have a social impact that drives them.

Purpose and passion are also why Michael Dell raised the money to buy his own company back. He was passionate about what he had created but knew he couldn’t make the moves he needed to protect that purpose and passion if the company was publicly traded. So, he raised the money to buy back Dell stock and make it private again. That’s what passion does.

People lose their shared sense of passion when they’ve lost their purpose. How then does an organization find or rediscover its purpose? How does it get intentional about ensuring everyone shares that purpose and passion?

  • Everyone in the organization needs to know why the organization was created.
  • What was the founding story?
  • What needs is the company serving now?
  • Could you name the why behind the how and the what?
  • Can you name the team’s core values?

Passion tears down silos and positions organizational culture to be fully integrated. When an organization isn’t driven by passion that comes from a clear and honorable purpose, it’s easy to get into a mess.

So the question is this: is your organization mission-minded or messy-minded? Do you have a mission-critical mindset in your organization or a silo-centric mindset?

3 Signatures of a Mission-Minded Team

Teams working with a mission in mind can’t help but stand out from the rest. How many of these do you see every day with your organization?

  1. With a mission-critical mindset, people will elevate mission, purpose, and passion above the need for egocentric wins. When you’re driven by a good purpose and sense of mission, you don’t have time to get involved in all the messiness—petty arguments, power trips, turf wars, and silo building. It’s not about who gets the credit; it’s about getting things done to advance the mission. They don’t look to place blame; they try to affect change. It’s amazing how much can get done when no one cares who gets the credit.
  2. When you have a strong sense of mission and focus on other people, you position yourself and your organization to function in a highly integrated fashion—fingers interwoven, arms interlocked, tearing down silos and moving forward together in pursuit of your shared mission. The question is simple: what is your purpose?
  3. Slay the dragon or rescue the princess: I believe the best teams need a dragon to slay or a princess to rescue. They can be galvanized against a common enemy (the dragon) or united toward a common goal (the princess to rescue). The former is more of a negative purpose in response to a threat, while the latter is a positive purpose in pursuit of an aspirational aim. Both can be effective in giving clear purpose and keeping teams out of the distracting messiness—but a word of warning about the dragon:

A team functioning in constant threat mode, motivated by fear of the next fire-breathing monster, can be damaged over the long-term.

Occasionally, organizations do face a real crisis that demands the slaying of a dragon. However, for long-term success, it’s far better for an organization to cast a compelling purpose—freeing the princess—and then pursue it with a shared sense of passion.

You must be realistic, of course, but always tie motivation to a positive purpose whenever possible in your leadership to bring out the most inspired performance.

Embrace the Adventure

Life is an adventure to be lived, not a crisis to be survived. Running toward something is always more empowering than just running away from something else. And that’s the beautiful thing about mission-minded leading.

When you know your mission and realize at a core level how important it is, you don’t get caught up in all the distractions, you can’t afford to take your marbles and go home when things don’t go your way, but most importantly you have in view something bigger than short-term obstacles.

Messy-minded leadership might work in a pinch—at the cost of team trust and long-term stability.

Mission-minded leadership, fueled by purpose and passion, will take you all the way.

The Secret to Delivering Your Best Performance Every Day

3 Steps to Turn Burnout into Passion-Filled Purpose

Do you enjoy what you do every day? Do you wake up raring to tackle the next challenge?

Everyone can relate to doing a job they don’t enjoy. In fact, most Americans say they don’t look forward to going to work each day.

According to Gallup research, “An astounding 70% of U.S. employees are not showing up to work fully committed to delivering their best performance. Adding insult to injury, 52% of those workers are basically sleepwalking through their day, and 18% of them are busy acting out their unhappiness.”

Clearly, plenty of people simply aren’t lit up by what they do every day. At best, they feel intense ambivalence toward it. At worst, they hate it.

They show up and go through the motions, droning on day after day, week after week, year after year, eventually forgetting the passion that once fueled them so long ago.

The thought of fulfilling what they’re meant to do, if it ever existed at all, has long ago been shoved aside by the tyranny of the urgent.

Should You Bail Out or Dig In?

Let me be candid: if you are in a job you aren’t passionate about, you may need to start laying out a plan to pursue another path that better aligns with your passion.

In my experience, if you can align your passion with what you do at least two-thirds of the time, there’s no need to panic and jump ship. If not, you may need to make a move.

But before you do, I suggest you get clear on your passion first, because the problem may not be your job or organization at all.

The issue may be that you don’t have clarity about what lights you up or don’t know how to align that passion with the greater purpose of your organization.

Progress Begins with Purpose

Your purpose is largely made up of three components: what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at, and the sweet spot where you can make a living bringing those two together.

  • Your Passions. Start by listing all the things you would do for free simply because they make you feel fulfilled. Remember, inspiration may influence you, but passion moves you. When you’re tapping into passion, think, I cannot not do this. What do you love doing so much that it doesn’t even feel like work? But passion alone isn’t enough. It has to align with the reality of…
  • Your Strengths. Analyze your strengths and talents and factor them into the purpose equation. For example, you can be passionate about singing, but not be able to carry a tune in a bucket. You may long to be the life of every party but be wired to make your highest contribution in strategic thinking and reflection. In addition to taking assessments designed to uncover your natural personality and wiring, consider these three things:
  1. Know what you’re good at—and what you’re not good at.
  2. Discover what energizes you—and what drains you.
  3. Identify what recharges you—and what decharges you.

For example, when I get in front of an audience and start teaching principles and helping people, something amazing happens. Even when I come into the room exhausted, I get re-energized by the experience and walk out with more energy than I had walking in. Not surprisingly, that strength zone is where you’ll deliver your best results in…

  • Your Opportunities. Where do your passions and strengths intersect? That’s where you’ll find a competitive advantage, a place where you can deliver something unique to the workplace and, for that matter, the broader marketplace. Your oppotunity sweet spot is where you have the greatest potential to make your highest contribution, doing what you love in a way that is profitable to other people and rewarding to you.

Pro Tip: Your sweet spot has to make sense in the marketplace if you’re going to make a living pursuing it. I’ve known many people who’ve launched into the speaker business by quitting everything else and simply declaring, “I’m going to be a speaker.” It never lasts long.

People ask me all the time, Chris, how do you do what you’re doing?

My counsel is this: develop your sweet spot role on the side until your audience demands your full attention. That’s when you can allow yourself to fully focus on your purpose-driven passion.

Take Your Passion With You

It’s one thing to be in a job you hate. It’s another thing to be in a job where you do well and make good money, but lack respect for the leader or passion for the work.

That’s a trap that keeps good people paralyzed every day. They choose to remain a cog in the wheel rather than find and focus on what lights them up.

InSPIRED leaders discover what they were made to do and then pursue it with abandon. So, my question is this: if you’re going to do anything in life, why not do something that lights you up?

If you’re going to do anything in life, why not do something that lights you up?

The beauty of this mindset is that the brighter you are, the brighter you make your world. I want to do something that lights up the world. I want to light it up in a way that lights others up and encourages them to live out their unique brilliance.

That’s why I walked away from a good career many years ago to build a great life.

Let me be clear: I’m not advising everyone to quit their jobs tomorrow—or ever, for that matter. Not at all.

In fact, what I am suggesting is that the disengagement so many people feel is a direct result of the disconnect between personal passion and organizational purpose.

The responsibility to close that gap lies both with the individual to get clear on his or her passion and with company leadership to create a culture that resonates with a bigger and better why.

The disengagement so many people feel is a direct result of the disconnect between personal passion and organizational purpose.

People aren’t like matches. Burnout isn’t the end.

It’s never too late to rediscover what lights you up and bring that same purpose and passion to wherever you decide to live, work, and lead.

I challenge you to invest intentional time this week to revisit these three elements—your passions, your strengths, and your opportunities—and rediscover why you started your journey in the first place.

It changes everything.   

Organizational Culture – Part 1

Every Organization has a ‘Culture’ and as I’ve discussed in previous blogs – that culture is either by design or it is by default. In any case, the Culture exists.

What is the present ‘Culture’ of your organization?

I define ‘Culture’ as a being made up of three components:

Beliefs
Behaviors
Common Language

It is a rarity, nowadays, that I would get to help create a company culture from scratch – before any employees are hired – before any defacto culture exists. Most of the time, our starting point is two fold from the outset. 1.) Present Culture 2.) Desired Culture.

There are many reasons for Present Cultures: adaptability of the people to work problems, differing perspectives between team performers and team leaders, communication competencies (or lack thereof), aligned (or mal-aligned) incentive/compensation programs, layoffs, cutbacks, growth – and, probably, a hundred more… The Reason(s) are an important piece – as the Root Cause – of any issue is DEEPLY important to change.

So if you took a few minutes today – and simply walked the halls of your office or sat in the break room of the manufacturing plant – What would you hear? What would you see?

Like it or not – this is your present Organizational Culture.

Are your people tired? Does their behavior align to the Company values? What are their individual and collective beliefs? And what does their communication look like?

It is a great exercise to sit, watch, listen, and record the beliefs, behaviors, and conversational language that occurs in your company. It can be VERY eye opening.

You say, “How do I know what my people believe?”

Easy… Watch their actions, listen to their communication.

Belief Drives Behavior.

I could say that phrase a thousand times over – People will reveal what they believe by their actions and by their speech. Their actions are, usually, a truer representation of their beliefs.

Over the next few days (with as much objectivity as possible) just listen, just watch, just record.

Is the Culture Proactive? Or Reactive? Owners? Passengers? Victims? Engaged? Disengaged? Empowered?
The work comes into play once the present ‘Culture’ is discovered – and we’ll discuss that in the next blog!

In the meantime – checkout one of the previous blogs on Culture – Have a great day!

More on Moving ‘Anchors’ to ‘Racers’

Leadership and connectedness is a process. It doesn’t happen in a day – it happens every day.

I’ve said it so many times, it’s almost become cliché – “Leaders go for the heart, Managers go for the hands.” And along with that, “We Lead People, we manage things”

Are there any among us that woke up this morning with the thought, “I hope my boss manages me today!” or “If only my boss or spouse would just manage me more!”

Doesn’t that just raise the hair on the back of your neck? People, as a general rule, have no desire to be “managed”. They are built with that internal desire to be free and independent… yes we have some level of a herd mentality – and yes, some people do need more hands on attention than others – but that does not mean that the majority want us to “Manage” them.

What I have found in people is that they welcome caring counsel, or advise from a trusted source – they hunger to be inspired and for someone to live a true model in front of them. In fact, they will gladly follow the ‘lead’ of someone that meets that criteria!

In the 2000 Goleman study, it was discovered that 70% of Employees perception of their working climate was tied to their leader’s Emotional or Relational Intelligence – their leader’s ability to connect with them relationally. If 70% of their job satisfaction and motivation is tied to our ability as leaders to connect with them – beyond just “managing them” – how profound of an impact can it make when we as leaders grow our relational skill set? Or determine to connect more authentically with our people? I believe that we would have far more racers than anchors!

People will follow – bigger, better, further, and faster – when we connect with their hearts instead of just trying to leverage their hands – when we aim for their heart – we get commitment – when we aim for the hands – the best we can hope for is compliance. How much more will our people ‘race’ when their hearts and hands are committed and connected to the mission?

So, how do you connect and lead your team?

“When it comes to team leadership, you lead your people one person at a time.”

Each person’s needs vary in some way or another – they will view life and business just a little different than each coworker – and the more diligent we are at connecting with them as individuals with their unique nuances– the more influence we will have with each – and “Leadership is Influence”

Consistently, I ask leaders what business they are in – and after they reply – I suggest that their response may be their product – but as leaders – we are all in the “People” business.

Maybe, just maybe – if we learn our people and connect with our people – they will be inspired to give more. How can they not be? They will be more connected and, relationally, when we are more connected we feel more obligated to not let our friends down.

Have a great weekend!

Unleashing the power of the team… Gaining employee engagement

As much as a leader is a ‘commander’ of people, he/she is, also, a servant of people. Engagement is not so much about commanding as it is connecting.

Bottom line(s): Valued, engaged people lead to Satisfied Customers and together, they will gladly and consistently contribute to a great BOTTOM LINE…

The Gallup Organization has consistently surveyed employees and businesses in the arena of engagement and the corresponding effects on the “Bottom Line”. They divide employees into three areas that in ‘Iditarod Leadership’ are classified as: Racers, Loafers, and Anchors.

Racers are between 25 and 30% of the average company. They are enthusiastic, committed, and run with passion and purpose. They feel deeply connected to your race! They consistently run at high performance levels and hunger to use their talents and strengths every day. They fuel creativity and move the sled forward.

Loafers are roughly 50 to 55%. They are trotting through the days, content to ‘go with the flow’. They are fairly neutral about the mission and the sled. They tend to take a “wait-and-see” attitude towards it all – sort of a, “if it looks like we may be in contention for something great – I may get excited – but until then I’ll just punch the clock”.

Anchors can range from 15 to 20% on average. Sleds, normally, have anchors(or hooks) that keep the sled in place as you’re lining up the team, but these folks are Anchors that actively dig in their heals as the rest of the team attempts to run. They, literally, drain the team of its energy and actively seek to spread their ‘Rabid” discontent.

Gallup estimates that the ‘Bottom Line’ effect of ‘Anchors’ in 2006 cost the US economy about $328 Billion in lost productivity and the corresponding ripple effects.

So, how can we develop a team full of ‘Racers’ and ‘Unleash the power of the team…’? Here are a few ideas to implement in your kennel for some immediate effects:

  • Clarity expectations – when dogs or people are unsure of their roles and expectations – they cannot race with their full strength. Learn to line out in simple language exactly what you want them to ‘DO’ and they will run faster.
  • Grow, Equip and Empower – Use training runs and growth exercises to teach them what they need to know , to stretch and grow them, and to equip them for the journey. When the time comes – set them free to run. The best days in a sled dogs life are when the musher says, “Hike” and takes away all hindrances to their running!
  • Leverage their Strengths – put them in the right spot on the team – where their personality and strengths will fit perfectly. When they are placed well – they will run well.
  • Be liberal with treats and ‘Ataboys’. Is there anyone among us that won’t pull harder when we know our efforts will be recognized or rewarded by our leader?
  • Connect on a personal level with them AND help them connect with the mission of the race – give them your heart and go for theirs. Once you know their heart, you’ll be able to see where their heart aligns with the overall mission and you’ll be able to help them connect and run with purpose.
  • Excellence and Contribution. We all want to know we are a part of something that is excellent – something of quality –AND that we have a valued contribution to that end. Set the standard for excellence on your team and when they contribute ideas – affirm their valuable input and seek to implement where possible. It will increase their self esteem and create bold and daring team members that pull voraciously.

As we serve, value, equip, and empower our teams – we will be astonished at the power that is unleashed and stretched as leaders as the sled starts to reach top speed!