Want to Lead? Enable Others to Flourish


“Leadership boil down to arranging circumstances for the people so that they may flourish.” – Everything Connects

by Faisal Hoque


Also featured in LinkedIn Pulse.

When people are intrinsically motivated, there is something inside of them that pushes them to work. However, if they are extrinsically motivated, something outside them brings them there.

Intrinsic motivations include the inborn needs for mastery, autonomy, and purpose.

Extrinsic motivations are often what’s being suggested when managers talk about incentivizing a task: money, promotions, and other dangling carrots.

A growing body of research shows how the correlation between monetary wealth and self-reported happiness drops off over time. A 2010 study led by the economist Angus Deaton and the psychologist Daniel Kahneman made headlines with its finding that a salary of $75,000 was the threshold for day-to-day happiness, where employees could better absorb adversities as diverse as asthma or divorce.

Our treatment of each other as humans is what ultimately brings success. Here are five ideas from our book “Everything Connects – How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability” for connecting with the people to move your initiatives forward.

Create a sense of purpose

Vision is what we’re to do with the time that we have. If you look at the central business theses of a few leading organization, we can see that they prioritize not only revenue — though surely that’s essential — but also the purpose of the work that they do. And that purpose is critical to staying a long-term course.

Time is the most scarce resource. When we realize not as an intellectual construct but as an emotional conviction that our time here is finite, we act purposefully. If we want to cultivate the visionary in others, we need to attend to the emotional intelligence of other people. Commitment-oriented organizations are proven to be successful because they lead their people with a sense of purpose.

Manage progress not people

People are more creative when they have a positive experience of work, when they think well of their organization and colleagues, and when they find their work meaningful and thus intrinsically motivating. When they are achieving, they see themselves as making progress.

Progress doesn’t need to be monumental. As Teresa Amabile, professor and a director of research at Harvard Business School suggests that although there are indeed heroic moments within a career, a more commonplace victory can be enough, like if you’re a programmer rooting out a difficult bug, the nonprofit director making a draft of a grant application, the high school teacher finishing a day without having to raise his voice, or the executive wrapping up her tasks in time to have dinner with her family.

A humanistic, holistic leader arranges for such moments of progress.

Empower creativity and innovation

Today companies and individuals alike are pushed to reinvent faster than ever. Innovation isn’t an option anymore; it’s a requirement. People who come together to share ideas, compare observations, and brainstorm solutions to complex problems power sustained innovation.

Successful leaders drive long-term value creation with constant reinvention: surveying the subtle and not so subtle arts of idea generation, decision-making, and creating continuous value. When studied carefully, leaders of innovative organizations enable a culture of innovation. It begins with the attitude of accepting that the world really has changed. It’s about cultivating a mindset to learn to see the world in new ways. Here is a bit more on how to create a culture of innovation:

Cultivate a beginner’s mind

Shunyru Suzuki writes in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

Since we are the product of repeatedly experimenting with possibilities, we’re behooved to approach our life in such a way as to give the maximum surface area to possibility.

Beginner’s mind, then, is a practice of approaching our experiences empty of assumptions. Essentially, beginner’s mind is an empty vessel, waiting to be filled up by the raw data of living life. In this way, we become more vulnerable to insight. Since we don’t claim to have come to the final answer, we can more readily welcome new ones. To do this, leaders have to:

  • believe that there is more to learn – we have to accept that as we fail, there are new ways for producing results.
  • believe that there is always something new – we can never stop learning.
  • believe that we can improve – we are responsible to make ourselves better.

A beginner’s mind, then, is what allows leaders to embrace the highest emotional qualities such as enthusiasm, zeal and optimism to creatively move everyone forward.

Find platforms that are already there

If vision is an expression of the soul of a person, platform is its body. We often call these “core competencies,” which tend to grow organically. Whether an organization (or an individual) recognizes it in themselves, these competencies are platforms, or assets with business applications.

Platform generation is taking assets from inside and outside of your organization that have already been created and finding new ways to use them. They can also be tangible things — automobile companies will use the same engine in a range of cars, and, at times, provide engines for other manufacturers, bringing in more capital from a preexisting product. In understanding platforms, we appreciate the wealth of possible intersections between our organizations, the world and ourselves.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved. Follow him on Twitter @faisal_hoque.

Featured in HuffPost Business and LinkedIn Pulse.


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