Why We Do What We Do
Americans work harder than anyone on the
planet. We are productive, energetic and creative. There is no challenge we will not face
and overcome on the road to success. Bigger, better, faster, stronger.
But competence and efficiency, while
important, do not make for an exceptional organization. What might be called an
enlightened organization recognizes and values the human factor in everything it
does. The difference is palpable, to employees and customers alike.
The human factor is what motivates us to
extend ourselves beyond expectations to produce extraordinary outcomes. Its what
makes an organization an exhilarating place to work, able to amicably resolve internal
conflicts while delivering superior service to impatient clients. Its what creates
customer loyalty in the face of price competition and design breakthroughs in the face of
impossible deadlines. Its why you trust the surgeon who listens attentively to your
concerns and pay a premium to return to a wonderful hotel.
Emotional and social
intelligencethe ability to empathize and build resonance with othersare
essential proficiencies in almost field of human endeavor. Thanks to recent discoveries in
the emerging fields of affective and cognitive neuroscience, we now know that "good
people skills" are not limited to people with the right DNA or the right family
environment. These skills can be taught. And they are related to sound ethics, a sense of
purpose and a life of balance. In short, to being fully human.
The Human Factor In
Human beings have always come together
for shared enterprise. Indeed, survival depends upon our ability to work together. Tribal
hunting on the open savannah gradually evolved into an interdependent web of global
organizations that perform unimaginably complex operations. But the basic challenge of
shared enterprise remains the same: creating purposeful activity that is rewarding both to
the individual and the larger group at the same time.
There is, however, a vast disparity in
the ability of organizations to address these two distinct, and sometimes competing,
objectives. Some exceptional organizations are truly exhilarating places to work, where
employees are inspired to perform at their best; others still operate in the tribal mode,
where the voice of the individual is silenced. Most organizations fall somewhere in
Competence and efficiency, while
important, do not make for an exceptional organization. An organization may be said to be
"enlightened" to the extent that it recognizes and values the human factor
in its activities. The human factor includes such intangibles as meaning, purpose and a
sense that one is uniquely valued. In such organizations, productivity flows naturally and
abundantly from a realized sense of personhood.
Emotional and Social
Building an organization that
transcends the conventional model requires application of the principles of emotional and
social intelligenceknowing how to connect with others and how to build resonance
throughout the entire organization. These skills are typically underdeveloped in our
"left brain" educational system, where cognitive intelligence is the exclusive
measure of achievement. The fact is, "people skills" are far more significant to
success in life than high SAT scores.
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