Using Your Superpower to Increase Engagement
Approximately every eight weeks, a fellow female colleague and I meet on Saturday mornings at a delightful boutique bakery near our homes that features phenomenal gluten-free almond brioche and divine lattes. Our conversations are fueled by caffeine and pastries.
As dedicated and driven IT executives, we cherish this time together as we share recent successes, topics for advice, swapping books and germinating new ideas. We are fortunate to have this bond. It allows for complete transparency without being judged for any component of the conversation. Of course we are each genuinely happy for one another and encourage stretching the other to reach the next goal and opportunity. Our connection was made through a mutual male colleague who said to us each individually, “I know someone you have to meet!”
When we first met, one of her initial questions to me was, “What is your Superpower?” Meaning, what do you love to do and what are you genuinely good at in your career? I loved the question. “Leadership” was my response. I returned the question. She replied, “Happiness.” From there we dove headfirst into explaining the details behind each of our reasons, without worry of ego, how it sounded, or being corrected. In fact, what happened was each of us asked deeper questions about how, why and what we do with our self-anointed, superpowered skill. Most importantly, we realized our superpower was truly what helped to define our individual style and we never felt like frauds or sought validation in the conversation. In fact, the reason our skills defined each of us were personally important as they were cultivated through years of experience, trial and error, and honesty.
Creating a culture of happiness is not about unicorns and rainbows. It is about the psychology behind what creates an engaged workforce. When you hire a new teammate, research has shown you have two weeks to create a first impression.
Within the first 10 days of employment, a new teammate will determine if the choice they made to join an organization was the right one. If the organization does not present their culture honestly and positively, the employee may not sense their place and role accurately.
Although they may stay for an undetermined amount of time, their overall engagement is far less than it could have been otherwise. Positivity is a natural complement to happiness. Neither can be successfully forced in the workplace and there are plenty of opinions that share the view that happiness at work can be damaging in that it may not lead to greater productivity and can create needy teammates.
If you view teammate interaction as a way to a spark unstructured and congenial interaction among teams versus forced and constructed and overbearing, it becomes an instrument in the toolbox of leadership, designed to be utilized with the appropriate level of energy, focus and realism. By no means is happiness a de-facto principle that will be the solution to all situations we face at work. In her recent Forbes article, Sharissa Sebastian notes “…happy people are less stressed, get promoted more frequently, and are more creative, productive, and healthy, just to name a few benefits.” Can this be created at work?
The choice of happiness in and of itself it is completely up to every individual, both personally and professionally.
However, as leaders, it is our responsibility to create an environment where this is possible.
While leadership is often an assumed trait for executives, the degree to which many are comfortable with it and dedicate the energy into developing it as a core competency varies greatly. There are many key attributes of being a leader, with servant leadership, the “philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world” being a preferred attribute. Cultivating the goals of an individual into the goals of the organization is where true synergy occurs.
Much of the responsibility of servant leadership falls with the realm of deliberate actions including ensuring teammates have regular one-on-ones, continuous performance dialogue, a professional development plan, clear and concise communication, open feedback loops, access to training and mentorship, to name a few. As Jim Collins notes in Good to Great, Level 5 Leaders “display a powerful mixture of personal humility and indomitable will. They’re incredibly ambitious, but their ambition is first and foremost for the cause, for the organization and its purpose, not themselves.” Striving toward Level 5 while defining the future of an organization and facilitating teammates in their commitments to achieve their goals and that of the company is a continuous cycle.
I once had an amazing boss who said the best way for me to repay all that she had done in helping me to grow professionally was to do the same for others. I was fortunate to learn early in my career that it is always about the people. I certainly have made mistakes, yet I have taken each opportunity to learn from them and do all that I can to ensure teammates have a place where they can come to work, do what they love, and leave at the end of the day knowing how they made a difference and why it matters. The journey of developing leadership as a superpower never ends and is never routine.
Can promoting the best-case scenario of happiness and leadership be seen as competing priorities of what is best for the individual teammate versus the organization? When seeking to deliver the goals and results for the organization in terms of service, product, profitability and reputation, is there a risk placing the needs of the teammate over that of the organization? In bringing a superpower to the table is not operating in a silo nor can it be your only contributing factor to the success of a team. We have myriad skills and competencies that drive us toward certain behaviors and when we are in an environment where we can be our true self, these talents thrive and become positive differentiators. Having awareness of your superpower and the ability to exercise it, allows you to bring out the best of this in others. Find out what each person’s superpower is, create a space where there is competition for priorities, you will know which superpowers can collectively achieve the best outcomes.
Let’s Make It Happen!
Connecting women in executive roles has an exponential effect. Ever since we began meeting, we began to share the energy and ideas from our sessions with our counterparts and teammates. Knowing you have the opportunity to come together to create positive energy with the intent to use it for the betterment of others has an empowering and lasting effect.
What is your superpower? Use it for the care and improvement of those around you and share it broadly. Imagine the possibilities of bringing this together with others who see the potential and have the ability to apply it across the continuum of individuals, teams and organizations. Whether it is over caffeine and pastries or a conference table and laptops, the possibilities are endless. Let’s go make it happen!
RETURN TO CHIME MEDIA