It was the aftermath of 9/11, and The Leadership Trust® noticed a preponderance of die-hard workaholic managers and executives showing an almost overnight interest in rekindling their family fires. How did this impact the delivery of our leadership development programs? This signaled what Generations X and Y really want in a leadership program. We thus made two immediate major changes followed by some major changes today: 1) We faded out our weekend-format programs over the course of 4 years, and today we offer a wellbeing program, the benefits of which trans-generalize to work. So it was the tragedy of 9/11 that expedited the manifestation of these changes.
That’s not all that changed. I distinctly remember speaking to a room packed with Systems Engineers. More specifically, I was surrounded by brilliant, left-brained rocket scientists (literally, these were NASA scientists). It was immediately evident that anytime I spoke to personal relationship dynamics, whether marriage, parenting, or simply self-reflection beyond work issues, their body language changed dramatically indicating intense engagement (e.g., leaned forward in their seats, nodded occasionally, glanced around in agreement with others). There was what appeared to be an insatiable hunger for what could nurture a meaningful human connection with their loved ones. Resultantly, we promoted opportunities to strengthen family relationships as part of our leadership programs. These were opportunities only, meaning nobody had to comply with including family feedbacks, and neither did they have to share anything beyond work.
The results were remarkable with regard to immediate permanent positive change at work. Why? Just as work affects home, home also affects work, yet it was the stronger motivation to change for the sake of their loved ones that ultimately impacted those changes at work.
Finally, I remember thinking the real secret to effective leadership was getting everyone to hunger for meaningful human connections at work. So I started asking the simple question, “How do you want your adult children’s manager to treat them when they make a mistake, solve a problem, or come to him or her with a problem?” Your answer is your roadmap to the next higher level in effective leadership. Those visionary leaders upon promoting these kinds of meaningful relationships at work soon find solid support for their company vision.
As lofty as this may sound, if everyone were mindful of their work relationships as described herein, world peace would become feasible rather than simply that for which we hope and pray.