“I feel like I’m just a number, I feel like I’m a cog. I left the big company because I want to work for a small company because I didn’t want to be a cog.”
This is the language we’ve grown up with. It’s the cultural language that comes out of the Industrial Revolution, where we think about business as a machine with inputs, outputs where people are resources, or assets to be replaced.
But assets don’t grow on their own. Human beings do.
In a time when employee engagement is down, many leaders are re-envisioning the roles inclusivity, purpose, and personal growth play in the workplace.
What does best-self management really mean and how might it benefit your organization? What does the future of organizational development and company culture look like in a remote environment?
I interviewed David Hassell and Shane Metcalf, co-founders of 15Five and we tackled the tough questions surrounding employee growth, fulfillment, and morale, as well as the responsibility all leaders have to address how their own mindset affects their team.
When your people thrive, your company thrives.
What is Best-Self Management?
A lot of companies say they want their employees to bring their whole selves to work. But there are parts of ourselves that are not appropriate for the workplace.
What’s important to bring to the workplace is your Best-Self, and to help your team become their best selves.
We’ve all had a soul-crushing job where we didn’t leave a better version of ourselves. The vision Shane and David have enacted through 15Five is that people join companies and they leave a better version of themselves for having worked there- their best self.
You gain relational skills, empathy, and depth. You gain a greater awareness of your strengths, your Genius, and competence. You have a deeper sense of belonging, of community, of purpose. That’s what best-self management entails. You manage your people in a way that they become better versions of themselves.
When you create a company that’s based on that ethos, you’re building a company that thrives because your people are thriving, because your people are in their Zone of Genius, because they’re connected to where they’re actually great.
It’s not about just feeling good and helping “unlock people’s potential.” Best-self management helps you generate the best performance you can.
Best-self management is the thing that gets you from being really skillful to being world-class. Doing that at scale and creating an organization that invites people to step into their true authenticity of who they are, their highest self, their best-self, and do the best work of their lives.
Engagement and Performance
Engagement and performance are the biggest critical issues that companies need to solve. That’s how you actually win as a business. Success is increasing your engagement and increasing your performance.
Engagement is when you show up to work, have a positive association with your work, and are energized by your work. You leave the office with more energy than you went into it with.
Most companies focus on performance management, or getting data and measuring outcomes. But really what’s going on under all of the numbers is that people on teams don’t feel acknowledged or appreciated.
One of the most common things I hear from people in my coaching programs with me is “I don’t feel seen. I don’t feel heard. I don’t feel valued.” If an employee is sitting there and most of the time they’re feeling like they would be better off if they weren’t at your company, that is not a recipe for great performance.
If you’ve ever felt like just a number or a cog in a machine, you’re not alone. But a different way is POSSIBLE!
The leadership at 15Five presents the idea that human beings need to be regarded as human beings, not as replaceable parts of a machine. Engagement emerges from those who find work consistently energizing, inspiring and meaningful by leveraging their highest strengths, values, and passions.
You can orient your company to re-humanizing your people and say,
- You’re an employee, but you’re also this complex, dynamic human being with a whole self and best self. I recognize that and I support that.
- I’m going to create a culture of deep belonging, psychological safety of inclusivity.
- I’m going to work on myself to be an inclusive leader.
- I’m going to also help you cultivate your self-esteem.
- I’m going to help you know your strengths.
- I’m going to help you know your purpose.
THAT is how you actually create engagement and performance!
Better engagement and performance are the outcomes of re-humanizing the humans inside your organization.
Who isn’t going to feel better about their own life and the lives of their employees, if that is happening?
High engagement is possible! People finding their work consistently energizing and meaningful by leveraging their top strengths, values, and passions is possible!
The choice to shift to this style of leadership is yours to make. You can create the future you want to see for yourself and your employees.
Leading Others Starts With You
If you’re a leader who hopes to create a team where your employees are being their best selves, you first have to live it yourself.
If you haven’t done this exploration for yourself, and if you’re not in that mindset for yourself, you’re not going to be able to deliver it for others.
The consciousness of an organization can’t exceed the consciousness of the founder.
It starts with you. And that can feel really scary and vulnerable if you’re not used to leading from that place.
But an organization can only grow to the extent of the founders’ shadows.
If you aren’t bringing illumination to your own dark corners and your own blind spots, the organization’s growth is limited.
When I used to do consulting on growth marketing and growth strategy, often the growth problem was the analog between the leader’s own shadow and the darker parts of their past.
The resolution is for founders and leaders to embark on personal growth.
Founder work is so important. You can start with a 360-degree review or dive into discovering your Zone of Genius. Investing in your growth always benefits your business.
Whenever you’re leading anybody else and you can see what they’re capable of, and hold them in a vision and an intention of their best-self, it is transformative.
One of the most transformative things that any of us that can do for another human, is to see their best.
Leading humans involves opening your heart to others, healing your own trauma, and being on a journey of softening and opening your own self.
You are Allowed to be your best self and you are Allowed to foster that in others.