Make Them Love Their Jobs
Marshall Goldsmith / Business Week
August 11, 2008
As corporations’ expectations for their professionals have increased, professionals’ expectations for their leaders have also increased. Peter Drucker often talked about the importance of effectively leading knowledge workers—professionals who know more about what they are doing than their boss does.
In leading today’s knowledge workers, it is important to invert the pyramid and look at leadership vis-à-vis the wants and needs of the professional—as opposed to the skills of the leader. Today’s leaders may be judged more by the gifts they provide than the gifts that they possess. Here are some tips for successfully managing knowledge workers:
•Encourage their passion
When professionals were working 35-40 hours per week and taking four to five weeks of vacation, it was not so important that they loved what they did. But when professionals are working as many hours as they do today, it’s crucial that they love their work. Professionals need to look forward to going to work in the morning. The leaders of the future need to look for, support, and encourage passion in their professional employees. Leaders also need to “lead by example” and demonstrate this same passion. When I ask high-potential leaders why they stay with their companies, “I love working here!” is a very common response!
•Enhance their ability
As job security has decreased—and global competition has increased—the need to update and refine skills continually has become critical in maintaining professional careers. Leaders of the future will need to look beyond the skills needed for today and help professionals learn the skills that will be needed for tomorrow. One company renowned for educating its professionals has noted: “We cannot ensure your lifetime employment, but we can help ensure your lifetime employability.”. Top professionals will often be willing to accept less money for more growth. Loyalty will be gained through learning—not just earning.
•Value their time
As professionals have less disposable time, the value of their time increases. When asked to describe the qualities of leaders they do not respect, one of the most common answers from professionals is: “I hate it when leaders waste my time.” It is hard enough working 50-80 hours a week and doing what does matter. It is incredibly painful to work that much and then end up wasting time on things that don’t. Leaders will need to increase skills in protecting professionals from things that neither encourage their passion nor enhance their ability.