They set direction that others aspire to; they help others participate in doing good work and good works; they communicate ideas and invest in practices that shape how people think, act, and feel. As organizations become an increasing part of the individual’s sense of identify and purpose, leaders play an increasing role in helping people shape the meaning of their lives.
Too many leaders focus on where they are going and how to get there, without paying much attention to how it feels to those on the journey with them. When leaders make work meaningful, they help create abundant organizations where employees operate on a value proposition based on meaning as well as money.
Meaning becomes a multiplier of employee competence and commitment, a lead indicator of customer share, a source of investor confidence, and a factor in ensuring social responsibility in the broader community. We find that even the hardest-nosed leaders become interested in meaning when they realize its potential contribution to bottom-line realities. When leaders grasp the why of meaning, they then seek the how.
Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich, “The Why of Work”