The “X” and I

(If engagement and values are interesting to you, the entire manifesto-length piece is available in the pdf file, The X and I which has functional links)

I’m a huge fan and avid student of engagement theory and values-based leadership. In particular I’ve leaned especially on engagement as presented by the BlessingWhite and Gallup Q-12 models, and David Zinger’s approach. There are a few recurring themes these approaches share, in particular these five attributes:

ONE: satisfaction and engagement are driven by personal core values and how fully an individual is living those values. So it is highly personal. My values did not fully come to light until the middle 1990’s. But it’s clear now these have impacted me since early grade school: creativity, growth / learning new and different things; freedom from unnecessary constraints.

TWO: engagement is more than feel-good. For engagement to be considered to be worthy by decision-makers, it has to add value to the bottom line, it can’t just be “I love my job.” BlessingWhite’s model of engagement (The State of Employee Engagement 2008 — North American Overview. See pp 3-4) defines high engagement as that rare state where maximum satisfaction and maximum contribution peacefully coexist. And there are buckets of hard data that show a clear and direct correlation between higher engagement and better results for every bottom line item that matters.

THREE: I need to fully utilize my strengths to be fully engaged. Strength is more than just “talent” or being good at something. A strength is a skill that I get satisfaction from utilizing because that talent means a good deal to me—it fits my satisfiers / core values.

FOUR: level of engagement is not a carousel it is a roller coaster. Environments, assignments, relationships all change even within the same position. Many of you have surely been to the same amusement park and on the same ride, some of you several times as I have. Are you terrified by the ride? Does it make you sick? Or do you have a ball? My roller coaster has been great fun.

FIVE: satisfaction and contribution impact each other. System thinkers call it a reinforcing loop, and it is a powerful force. A BlessingWhite article on Virtuous Circles details this relationship.

In closing: while I feel really silly quoting myself, in my last post The Natural Order of Things I proposed this:
“…organizational sustainability begins with me…Without people who are well-connected and personally aligned to their personal purpose and values, excellence and sustainability and all that other bottom line stuff is simply out of reach.

I’d appreciate your insights, please come back to share them.


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