Call me crazy, but I have never gone to work for the money. If the work I do is meaningful to others, the money will come. If the work I do is specialized and addresses urgent issues, the money will come. If I do my work with passion, integrity, respect and a profound sense of caring, the money will come. If the work I do is for a worthy cause with higher purpose, the money will come. To me, money is an outcome. Money is a measurement of the effort, results and quality I put into the work I do.
My work has always been about a very personal cause. The cause is about helping entrepreneurs to grow truly amazing companies with amazing cultures that are emotionally and financially sustainable. It is the “cause” that created my company, Strategies, and kept it thriving for over 21 years. It is the “cause” that attracts clients and talented and passionate staff to Strategies. It is the “cause” that provides a living and security for my company’s employees and my family.
That’s my story. That’s why myself, and those around me are so passionate and committed about the work we do … because it’s about the “cause.”
So what’s your cause? What cause do you and your team fight for? What cause embodies all that your company exists and stands for? What cause gives meaning to your work?
Here are some No-Compromise Leadership thoughts to help keep you and your team focused on the “cause”:
- Work is work … sucks: In the absence of a cause, work is nothing more than work. It’s putting in the time in return for money. Yes, people need to pay the bills, put food on the table and have a place to live, but working solely for a paycheck does little to feed the human spirit. The cause gives meaning and purpose to work. The cause creates that empowering above and beyond thinking and behavior that drives extraordinary team performance and wins. The cause weeds out culture killing indifference and entitlement thinking. When work is work … work sucks.
- The cause attracts and retains: All leaders want great talent on their team. It’s the cause that you and your team embrace that represents your brand and makes your company stand out from the competition. Talented people gravitate to standout companies that believe in and fight for a cause. They want to join in, participate and contribute. They want to belong. More importantly, they want to stay, because leaving means separating from the cause and the culture. Talent doesn’t gravitate to companies where work sucks – they avoid them. If your company is having challenges recruiting talent and having issues with turnover … your cause may have lost its glow and work became work. Who wants to go to work at place that lost its purpose and work sucks?
- Relentlessly communicate the cause: A worthy cause needs to be fed a steady diet of information flow. People need persistent reminders of why the work they do is essential, vital and uniquely special. People need and seek meaning in their work. People thrive when they know they are making a difference and that their work matters. The wins are more significant when they support the cause. And when the inevitable dark times occur, it is the relentless communication of the cause that provides the collective will to overcome. No other leadership responsibility takes precedent over relentlessly communicating the cause to ensure it endures through time.
- Compensate the cause – not the work: The cause is all about “we” … not “I/me/mine.” Pay based on individual work and output can and will compromise the cause because it is all about “I/me/mine.” It fractures teamwork by creating the haves that see little, if any, benefit in helping and mentoring the have nots. It feeds “It’s not my job” thinking to anything above and beyond “their work.” I have been, and will forever be, a proponent to pay based on overall performance that includes thinking and behavior that supports culture and teamwork.
- Beware the weary cause: Over time, a cause can lose its focus and therefore its followers. I’m going to rephrase this in a way that I hope smacks you in the head and gets you to assess the current state of your cause. Here goes; if your work as the leader has made you weary – your company’s cause has become weary. Yes, there are times when you need to recharge your leadership and entrepreneurial batteries, and that’s OK. But if you’ve grown weary and question your ability and passion to continue fighting for the cause, your company will remain stuck and eventually begin to fracture. As a leadership and business coach, I urge every leader to constantly assess their personal state of being for signs of weariness. As long as the desire and commitment to the cause is present, coaching and refocusing can rekindle your passion to once again lead the cause. The cause cannot survive without its leader.
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