I am often asked: What is it exactly that a Care & Growth intervention should deliver? At one level, the answer is very simple, it’s the same thing that every culture intervention should deliver… COMMITMENT!
Afterall, what are we looking for when we are trying to establish a healthy organisational culture? Surely, above everything else, we are seeking to establish the conditions under which every individual within the organisation does everything in their power to ensure that customers and clients are served with distinction. For the frontline, this means actually serving customers with distinction. For hierarchy and support functions, this means enabling the frontline to succeed at this.
Three ingredients for success
And we can see this more clearly when we highlight the 3 ingredients that any individual or group need to succeed at any task or project.
In the first instance, we know that every task or project will require certain means that facilitate its successful execution. Means is like raw material; it is all the stuff outside of the person that are needed to effectively complete a task. In a fishing context, means would be stuff like a rod, line, hooks, bait, etc.
Secondly, we need ability. You will not succeed at something if you are not good at it. Ability is about being good at what you do. Ability includes technical expertise but may also include soft skills, like being a good listener, for example.
The final ingredient, without which you will not succeed, is commitment. Commitment is about willingness. It is concerned with how badly a person wants it. Commitment is the desire to succeed and do a good job.
The most profound variable
The real differentiator at the highest level is commitment. What separates good from world-class in professional athletes is desire. The greatest are those who have the desire to be the best and are willing to go to any lengths to succeed. Ultimately, where there is a will, there is a way. So, of the 3 ingredients, commitment is by far the most powerful and profound.
In an organisational context, committed people are those who;
- Go the extra mile
- Are trustworthy
- Will find a way
- Give more than they take
- Have their heads in the game
- Give you a competitive advantage
- Produce a sustainable business
Where does commitment come from
We know that commitment can have different sources. For most people, commitment comes from a desire for something they want to get. I want a salary, so I go to work. My commitment at work under these conditions is solely a product of my desire for a salary.
It is also possible, though less common these days, for people to become committed because they buy into the purpose of the group. These are people who work from a sense of vocation. They are the people who have taken up a cause that they believe in. Save the polar bears, feed the hungry, care for the sick; each of these are causes that could give people a reason that is big enough to go the extra mile.
The rarest of people are the people who are committed to whatever they do, simply because of who they are as a person. People that have this sort of intrinsic motivator are very rare. They are people who have cracked the code of unconditional giving.
Commitment through leadership
Other than this, people can become committed because of other people. Team spirit is commitment to my colleagues. One of the most powerful sources of commitment however is an inspirational leader. History is littered with examples of inspirational leaders who, in virtue of their qualities of character, earn unconditional commitment from people.
Most people in any organisation, large or small, need help with becoming committed. If you work for a large corporate, it is quite a task to care about the organisation the way you care about yourself. This is where leadership fits in, and way inspirational leadership is such a key challenge in large corporate.
It is the job of the leaders in a large organisation to, first and foremost, be committed themselves, and secondly to cultivate, and earn, commitment to the cause from their people.
Earning Commitment with Care & Growth
It is true that commitment comes in degrees. People can be more or less committed. People can also become more or less committed over time.
And leaders are to earn commitment over time by being of service to their people. Ultimately commitment is earned as an expression of gratitude in those that have been served. Gratitude is our natural response to the insight that someone has acted in our interest. And we happily commit our effort to those that make us feel gratitude.
But the commitment earned is most profound when the service is unconditional. We feel a special gratitude for those people who we recognise need no reciprocation in their giving.
To read more on this topic, see Leadership: The Care and Growth Model