Love workplace challenges?
According to the leadership research of Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, co-authors of ‘The Leadership Challenge’, 94% of direct reports are willing to work hard when leaders very frequently or most always challenge them to try out new and innovative ways to do their work, compared to 5% of direct reports when leaders almost never or rarely challenge people. ‘By responding to the challenge, people feel a greater sense of accomplishment and are more willing to act on opportunities to take initiative and stretch themselves’, cite Kouzes and Posner.
Willingness to work hard is one aspect of engagement, and tends to also facilitate people’s desire to put in longer hours. Engagement is all about a heightened emotional connection, one that drives focus, motivation, positivity and energy, while also preparing them mentally, physically and emotionally to face challenge.
In the words of Claudio Lucero, the leader of the first all-South American team to climb to the top of Mt Everest: ‘People are not trained to face danger; in fact, they are trained to avoid it.’
Workplace challenges can represent danger to some as new methods will be needed, which will come with no guarantees of success. Increased possibility of negative factors such as stress, risk of error, lack of confidence, burnout can all occur. Yet people’s personal best emerges when they are stretched by challenge. ‘Leaders are not probability thinkers, but possibility thinkers’, say Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.
A ‘figurative ladder’ in a workplace will help everyone to reach new heights, guiding the journey one step at a time, allowing breaths to be taken, small rewards to be gained and regrouping to occur! Any first attempt at navigating a ladder may result in a slipped foot, or a misplaced step completely, yet with each progression comes new ideas to ensure mistakes are minimized and learning is maximized.
Leaders have others willingly co-creating a future, notwithstanding the degree of danger and challenge. When trust prevails in both the messenger and the message, the process has an opportunity to become a shared learning experience rather than a daunting work task. Which would you prefer to see present in your changing corporate landscape?