Today we live in a world in which our largest companies are mostly filled with highly qualified, highly talented, highly paid people who are highly unsatisfied with the work they’re doing.
In school and in business we are most often taught about supply and demand economics, marketing principles such as reach and frequency, that management is about controlling people and outcomes, and that leadership is about being front and center.
Before industrialization, commoditization and supply/demand economics there was a more simple way of doing business. In fact, we didn’t even refer to it as “doing business,” but rather as trade and commerce. It was just what we did to live. And there was a purpose to business that ran deeper than profit margins and market share—it was about putting in an honest day’s work, receiving a fair return, and doing the work we love to do.
Today there is research (see Daniel Pink – The Puzzle of Motivation) that clearly shows that beyond a certain income level money is a poor motivator for work performance, and that feeling a sense of importance in the work we do and pride of accomplishment is what truly motivates us to do our best.
Today we have amazing thought leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg, Brené Brown, Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Malcolm Gladwell, Jim Collins and others espousing the virtues of vision, purpose and a kind of leadership in which the leaders serve. These thought leaders and countless numbers of consultants and business coaches are telling us simple and important truths about what makes us tick and how to do more than just do business.
At the same time our thought leaders are sharing messages of what delivers us from unfulfilling jobs and careers, the media industry continually pounds home the message that “profitability” and “jobs” are the most important things we should be concerning ourselves with.
The message of vision, purpose and servant leadership is not new. It’s been around for a very long time. In fact these attributes are woven into the values of indigenous culture, which has been around for hundreds of thousands of years enabling our distant ancestors to live in near perfect harmony with each other and with nature for countless millennia.
The message from indigenous culture, which has been dismissed as too simple or primitive, is now being re-packaged as the new leadership paradigm. In whatever form it comes it’s still a valid message, and so important for delivering us to work and careers of meaning and value. It’s a simple formula…and it works.