What are you looking for?  Professionally?  Personally?  I heard once that there are three things that drive a person to a higher level of performance.  These are three things that every person is looking for, whether they are aware of it or not. What are people looking for? The three things were purpose, mastery, and autonomy.  It’s an interesting list and something worth considering.

Purpose – Knowing the Why

Knowing your why is so prevalent today it’s almost become corporate cliche (thank you Simon Sinek).  Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Simon Sinek’s work and almost always work my clients through an exercise of knowing their “why”.

But most people fail to truly understand what it means.  Most think their why is whatever motivates them to get going every day.  Often it’s family, sometimes it’s entertainment or pastimes like golf or exercise.  But these are not the things that give you purpose (unless you are a professional golfer or athlete).

Understanding your purpose is critical to finding true joy and personal satisfaction in your work.  If you understand your why, you will know why you do what you do.  And if your why is not in sync with your job, well, that’s okay too.  It tells you something even more important, that perhaps you are in the wrong job.

As leaders, it’s important that we help our employees connect meaning with their job.  I used to work in the A/V industry.  Many of our clients were involved in law enforcement.  When I asked our technicians what we did, they said that we installed TVs, projectors, screens and the like.  I corrected them.   No, I said, we help the good guys catch the bad guys.

In other words.  Our technicians needed to get past the mundane basics of what they did (install monitors and such) and look at the purpose behind what we did.  we helped people communicate.  We helped them do their jobs.  And, yes, in our own small way, we helped them enforce the law.

Developing mastery, the art of overcoming challenges

There are different definitions of mastery. Some professions have their own designations.  But whatever it is, it makes us feel good to recognize our personal mastery of a subject.

Definition:  Mastery:  the comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject

Using this definition, we can agree that mastery is something that we can all attain at some level.  Our A/V technicians developed mastery by achieving a level of certification in the industry that stated that they were accomplished at their jobs.  A doctor or lawyer may consider themselves having mastery when they complete their exams.  Other professionals may consider themselves as having mastery when they reach a certain level professionally.

Whatever it is, we can all define what “mastery’ of a subject looks like in our job or field.  For some, it might mean mastering janitorial services while another might want to master the chemistry behind the COVID19 vaccine.  The beauty of the idea of mastery is that it is all relative, and we can all achieve mastery at our respective levels.

And, when we do achieve a level of mastery, two things happen.  One, we get a great deal of personal satisfaction.  Endorphins are released every time we are able to demonstrate these gifts.  But secondly, and this is the best part of it, we develop new goals to master.  Because the desire for mastery doesn’t end when we attain it.  It only opens the door for the next level of mastery.

Autonomy – Being able to self-manage

Whatever our role, we all have a desire for a certain level of independence.  With very few exceptions, most of us have a deep desire for self-control and the ability to plan and execute our tasks and deliver the outcomes expected.  The A/V technician doesn’t do everything precisely as the design engineer planned it, because the reality of what he experiences in the field dictates his approach.  By having autonomy, he makes “gametime decisions” to adjust as the circumstances dictate.

Self-management does not mean you have carte blanch to do whatever you want.  You still must operate within the acceptable parameters.  The A/V tech must still follow industry guidelines and must achieve the desired results of the engineer’s plan.  As long as he stays within industry guidelines and expectations, he is free to achieve the goals within those parameters.

And this is what we mean by autonomy and the ability to self-manage.  It’s not a reckless abandon.  It’s having the power to make decisions within a framework.  Whether you are a truck driver or a nuclear scientist, you desire to have this freedom to execute according to your expertise and your industry limitations/guidelines.

Application for Leaders

For leaders, we should strive to allow our team members to have these three things.

  1. Help them understand the true purpose of your business and help them make that connection to their own personal value system.
  2. Give them the ability to develop mastery in their areas – big or small.  Recognize these accomplishments and utilize them as masters of their domain.
  3. Build appropriate structure around their roles so they can self-manage according to the risks, complexity and skills of the individual.

If you can do these things, you will have highly engaged, satisfied employees.  And your productivity and performance should see significant impacts as a result.

Interested in learning out to incorporate this into your culture?  Contact me today.