Aligning Passions

While following the Olympics last week and watching the behavior of the various teams, I remembered the research of Drs. George H. Labovitz and Victor Rosansky, authors of the book: “Rapid Realignment: How to Quickly Integrate People, Processes and Strategy for Unbeatable Performance”.  They highlight the importance of balancing passion and alignment in the team.

PASSION: Success, whether in the Olympics or in a high performance team is only possible when the people involved are energized to move the organization in new and better directions. This passion is essential to enable the organization meet its goals while employees can grow as persons and as professionals. The main task of every leader, then, from the CEO to the newest supervisor, is to ignite and nurture this passion. Two studies show the importance of passion:

  • In a plant of the transnational Warner-Lambert, there was a 21% increase in productivity and a reduction of 10% of costs, after eight months of a program to create environments which generate workplace passion.
  • Gallup, Inc., the international consulting firm, found in a study of companies around the world, that successful teams averaged 67% of staff scoring as passionate versus 7% as disruptive, whereas the mediocre or failed teams showed only 30% passionate and 18% disruptive.

ALIGNMENT: Unfortunately, passion alone is not enough: you have to focus on productivity, performance and organizational purposes. The Corporate Executive Board study found that 40% of passionate employees do not align their goals with those of the organization. The key is a balance between the two:

 
“PASSION WITHOUT ALIGNMENT CREATES A CHAOTIC TEAM;
ALIGNMENT WITHOUT PASSION CREATES AN ENSLAVED TEAM;
ALIGNMENT WITH PASSION CREATES A SUCCESSFUL TEAM”

HOW TO DEVELOP AND BALANCING THE TWO: We can apply the following strategies to encourage a balanced development of passion and alignment:

  • Use inclusive pronouns (“we”) rather than the polarizing ones (“I, they, you”).
  • Listen to understand (and not to criticize or defend yourself).
  • Build on the proposals of others (instead of always trying to put forth your own).
  • Balance analysis with action (avoiding impulsiveness or paralysis by analysis).
  • Balance inquiry with advocacy; neither of the two should dominate.
  • Correct the behavior (the doing) and praise the person (the being).
  • Check assumptions before speaking or acting, both your own and those of others.
  • Ensure clarity of purpose of the team and their actions.
  • Create owners of works … and not just workers.

 

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