Wednesday 27 May 2015

Co-creating cultures where people feel valued, fulfilled and loved

This is the seventh and final piece in a series about rehumanising leadership and management. Part one is here. Part two here. Part three here. Part four here. Part five here. And part six here.

The following is module eleven in my Leadership Momentum online learning program. Find out about this program here.

I get up each morning passionate to inspire at least one person in some significant way to feel more valued, fulfilled and loved.

Why these three you might reasonably ask?

In my work with leaders in over 40 countries since 1991 I have learned that the more people feel valued, fulfilled and loved, the simpler the path to higher employee driven engagement and lower employee turnover, both crucial to high performance cultures.

Key consequences are remarkable top and bottom lines, brands that are loved, and organisations making the positive societal and environmental impact that they must.

When people feel valued, fulfilled and loved they are energised, passionate, compassionate, creative, innovative, decisive, enthusiastic, fun to be with, candid, authentic, committed, and accountable. All these are paramount to being highly productive.


In every organisation there ought to be a strong, unbreakable bond between values, value and valued. Unfortunately their rarely is.

Most organisations have stated values. Very few are lived. Rarely is there a shared- view around the behaviours that demonstrate your values. Of course if you are the exception rather than the rule you have competitive advantage.

To help your people feel more valued, your first step is to agree with them about what your values are. There must be alignment between personal and organisational values. Any disconnect means trouble. The good news is that there are many universal values.

The second step is crucial, it’s about reaching a shared view with your people about what behaviours mean you live your values. I hope you have been inspired by the previous module and are working on this.

With the above as a foundation you can accurately determine and agree on what value must be delivered to all the stakeholders of your organisation. Delivering value to others that they demand, desire and feel that they deserve is fundamental to helping people to feel valued.

Living values and delivering value pave the way for appreciating people which is also fundamental in helping them to feel valued.

The eminent psychologist and philosopher William James famously observed:
"The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated."

There are many simple and common sense actions for expressing your appreciation to your employees. All of them contribute to them feeling more valued.

Here are just a few
Catch people doing things right and doing the right thing.
Give people genuine compliments.
Informally and formally celebrate with people what is going well for them.
Always say please and thank you and mean it.
Be courteous and kind.
Share stories about the successes of your people.
Be compassionate.
Using the appreciation and accountability technique you learned in Module Four in the Overcoming Resistance section of this program.

A further simple yet profound way to help people feel valued is to find out what is really important to them and then help them to achieve whatever it is.

The more people feel valued, the more they will deliver value to others, and the more they will live the behaviours of your values. You can see why I say that there ought to be a strong, unbreakable bond between values, value and valued.

Some time ago I wrote Values and value based businesses are on the rise.

Is your business on the rise?

Helping your people to feel valued is a key component of the journey. When your people feel fulfilled and loved as well as valued, consistent high performance is a consequence.


I love the word fulfilled because of what it means “satisfied or happy because of fully developing one's abilities or character.”

There are some great synonyms for fulfilled as well like “realised, carry through, accomplish, execute, carry out.”

The number of employees you have who you could say the above about I guarantee that your business results are a direct reflection.

Often when I begin change initiatives with organisations I interview the leadership team and the people that report to them to get a sense of who is willing and able to change. I end up with a rule of thumb assessment of where people are at in the following four categories:

I then dig deeper checking the vital signs of employees feeling fulfilled or not.

I am particularly interested in employee turnover and why people are leaving and staying. I also want to know the amount of time leaders are spending trying to sought out so-called people problems.

Low employee turnover is a sign employees feel fulfilled. The less time leaders are spending trying to solve people issues is also a sign.

I then dig deeper still. I want to know what the majority of people feel and think about statements 2, 3, and 4 of the 16 statements in the pulse check at the end of this page. For now they are:

We understand the defining moments in people’s lives and help them to bring the lessons learned in these moments to their work.

We are aware of and have continual conversations with people about what really matters to them.

We help people identify what is special about them, their unique gifts/talents, and then make it simple for these gifts/talents to be enhanced.

If I find that less than 90% of the time people feel these statements are true, then I know that the organisation has got work to do.

Once I have done my investigative work as described above I design a program with my client to close performance gaps.

The outcomes of such programs are directly and indirectly connected to increasing the number of employees who are fully alive which I detailed in sparkenation 21 in my Changing What’s Normal book.

Fulfilled human beings are spiritually alive, emotionally healthy, mentally alert, physically active, and universally aware. You might like to revisit pages 63 - 66 and 76 and 77 of the book. Imagine even just a small increase in the number of your employees feeling more alive!


Most people live in fear.
Most people are frightened of being hurt.
Most people fear they won’t be liked if they take a certain action.
Most people fear losing.
Most people fear the possible consequences of naming the elephant in the room - the obvious truth that is being ignored or going unaddressed.

I drew a laugh recently when someone in a meeting asked me for my thoughts. Without referring to anyone in particular I said “I can’t speak at the moment because the elephant in the room has got her foot on my throat.”

After the laughter died down and a long silence, the person we probably all least expected had the courage to finally name the elephant. Everyone felt better straight away.

I notice over and over that when fear is named it vanishes or at very least we feel able to confront it.

If you want to help people enhance their gifts (talents) and to perform more consistently at higher levels then help them, support them, encourage them to face their fears.

The opposite of fear is love.

The Ancient Greeks had four words for love. You no doubt know two - eros (romantic love) and agape (love in a spiritual sense). The third is storge, meaning natural affection like parents feel for their children.

The fourth, philia, is the one I find the most insightful. Philia is often translated as affectionate regard or friendship. We need more philia in our organisations.

I find it simple (not always easy) to have affectionate regard for people because I know everyone of us is a one-of-a-kind human being. Only the hardest of heart can’t not love a one-off.

When there is affectionate regard or friendship in our workplaces better performance follows. Usually in my experience very, very quickly.

In Q & A sessions that follow a lot of my presentations I often break the ice by asking people what they are passionate about. The most common answer is family. I then go on and ask the following four questions:
1. What makes great families great?
2. What do great parents do?
3. What do great life-partners do?
4. What do you notice about siblings who really get along?

Whatever the answers I then ask: What would happen in your organisation tomorrow if you began to apply the principles behind your answers?

I leave you to answer these questions and then apply the principles behind your answers in your workplace.

Improved performance will follow your actions I promise.

“Love drives out fear” say many of the ancient texts in all sorts of ways.
“A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.”
From the film ‘Strictly Ballroom’.

Maybe Modern Greece needs a lot more eros, agape, storge and philia. And a lot less financial advice!

Further Action
Download the diagnostic below here. Complete it and take appropriate action.

Be remarkable

View the other 21 modules in my Leadership Momentum online learning program here. Get 24/7 access to the program for 1 year and more for just $27 here. You must sign-up before midnight AEST on May 31st 2015.

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