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Managewhich as Leader in Trying Times

Photo by Wendell

Photo by Wendell


Here’s an excerpt from “Breakthrough Leadership”  by Wayne Baker at the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business.  As you read it, I encourage you to think about how you can create this for the people who work with and for you.

“Extraordinary events–positive or negative–are temporary openings for breakthroughs in personal growth, organizational development, and human progress. Breakthrough leaders seize these moments to explore a world of new possibilities for themselves, for their organizations, for society.

  1. People need to believe. The primary motivation in life is the search for meaning and purpose. Humans have a will to meaning. Human beings, says Charlotte Bühler, live “with intentionality, which means living with purpose. The purpose is to give meaning to life…” We cannot live without beliefs.
  2. People need to belong. The need to belong is a potent human force that finds expression in personal relationships, work relationships, community involvement, participation in voluntary associations, national pride, patriotism, tribal loyalties and religious allegiances. “Social needs” are powerful motivators-needs “for belonging, for association, for acceptance by one’s fellows, for giving and receiving friendship and love.” The need to belong is hard-wired. Indeed, the human brain has a specialized organic ability to perceive social events and human interactions. Belonging has measurable positive effects on subjective well-being, mental and physical health, and the body’s biochemistry.
  3. People need to contribute. The reciprocity principle-the obligation to give, the obligation to receive and the obligation to repay-is universal. It is a principal component of all moral codes. The principle is so fundamental that it defines humanity. The need to contribute to others and to accept contributions from others is hard-wired into us as a species.
  4. People seek transcendence. Why do bad (or good) things happen? The need for answers may be especially acute in the face of disaster, but transcendence above the trials and travails of life is an eternal and universal quest. Every culture grapples with the big questions: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Where are we going? The quest for transcendence takes many forms-science, religion, spirituality, philosophy, space exploration, devotion to callings and careers, the inner journey of self-realization, etc. Transcendence is possible in any circumstance. Victims of calamities, disasters or life-threatening events transcend the suffering and sorrow of their experiences by construing meaning in them, using their experiences to enrich their lives and the lives of others. With a higher purpose in life, a person can survive and rise above almost anything.
  5. Leaders and institutions (organizations, governments, family, religion, etc.) facilitate or deny the human needs to believe, belong, contribute and seek transcendence. Leaders and institutions facilitate by creating the space, opportunity and resources for the expression of belief, belonging, contribution and transcendence; they deny these by limiting, suppressing or opposing their expression.”

One of the challenges I hear most often is that no one has any time to stop and reflect anymore.  And, while I understand time pressures as well as anyone, we can all choose to stop and reflect at any time.  I think that is the key to purposeful, mindful leadership and management.  Make the decision to respond instead of react.

Be Your Best You Today,


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