Sunday, March 7, 2010

Purpose and Progress

As leaders, followers and any other role we play in life we find ourselves needing to influence the behavior of others and incentivize them to take certain action and adopt specific behavior. In the role of a community manager, we have the charter of shaping community health which can be generally defined as a combination of both the inventory and competence levels of the workforce (albeit the focus is almost entirely on numbers vice competence, which is not to say our workforce is incompetent but merely an observation). We watch certain communities enjoy special pays and bonuses in hopes of enhancing their community health by attracting more people into their community and giving most of them more reason to stay. Whether it be for the special skills they have or the personal sacrifices they make, some individuals are financially compensated more than others and in many cases rightfully so (though I offer that there is no real measure of value when developing supplementary compensation packages). As a member of a community that enjoys no special pays despite the high demand for knowledge, skills and abilities resident within our wardroom, we often contemplate how we improve upon our current community health. The answer is simple...

1) Ensure every member of the team enjoys a sense of purpose, i.e., by focusing them on meaningful work
2) Demonstrate to teammates we are collectively making meaningful progress towards a strategic objective, i.e., by periodic updates

Without a sense of purpose and/or knowing that one's efforts are progressing the collective effort toward a strategic objective, it is a little challenging to get up in the morning, put on the uniform and embrace the task at hand. In essence we need to help others to "connect the dots" so they understand the criticality of their individual contribution to the larger effort.

Over the past three months, many good things continue to happen at work and though we have always enjoyed a sense of purpose, we didn't always see visible progress toward our strategic objectives. Of late, leadership has embraced the "Curling Mentality" and given us the support we have needed to demonstrate progress to them and the rest of the team. It is one thing to blindly task a subordinate organization and another to facilitate execution by giving the implementation arm of one's strategic vision the public platform necessary to successfully move the ball forward.

Others can have their special pays, as it is the sense of purpose and the demonstrated progress that fuels me and the people with whom I enjoy working so much. Those who are motivated purely by a financial compensation package are not the people we necessarily want to retain on the team, yet they are the ones all too willing to stay. The people we want on our team are those with passion for the work. That said, passion will only take us so far if we leaders (and we all are leaders) are unable to deliver by giving each and every member under our charge a sense of purpose and facilitating meaningful progress across our command, directorate, department, division, or work center.

Do you arrive at work with a sense of purpose?
Do you leave your work center fulfilled knowing you are helping to achieve meaningful progress?
What about those under your leadership?


  1. Timely post Sean. More to consider as I contemplate my future.

  2. Partially agree on the bonus. However, there's another side. The lack of a bonus can also be interpreted as a lack of lobbying by our senior leadership to recognize our contribution. Couple this with a want for community direction, and no clear method for most people to provide suggestions to senior leaders as we navigate times of great change, and one could perceive a different viewpoint.
    - D. Cole