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Finding Meaning in Your Work-Life Balance

By April 7, 2022Article

Organizations often look to employee well‐being as the root for improved performance, motivated by the idea that a happy worker is a better worker and by data implying that work well‐being delivers an impressive return on investment. The common thread among all definitions is the idea that for work to be meaningful, an employee must be able to identify their personally meaningful contributions made by their effort. Beyond this, meaningful work speaks to people’s subjective experience that their work has a purpose and significance, that their work is harmoniously and energetically synergistic with the meaning and purpose in their broader lives, and that they are enabled and empowered to benefit the greater good through their work. 

With the development of approved measures of meaningful work, research examining its antecedents and outcomes has also started to generate. Conditions such as the socio-moral climate, work-role fit, and internal regulation are linked to the meaningfulness of work. 

It may be arguable, but a leader’s vital mission is to instill meaning and purpose in their organization. Employees, clients, and investors will readily respond. Studies revealed five outcomes that leaders deliver that they need to perform in their role:

  • Strategist. To provide a positive future outlook.
  • Executor. To instill discipline and get things done.
  • Talent manager. To engage and manage others for effective performance.
  • Human capital developer. To create sustainability.
  • Personal proficiency. To become good role models for their followers.

These five leadership roles are characterized by behaviors and results that apply to all leadership roles, be it new or seasoned, junior or senior, private or public sector. If becoming a more effective leader is half DNA and half learning, mastering these five roles will help any leader be more effective.

While studies have identified and taught the skills and actions linked with these five outcomes, another study has recently identified another dimension of effective leadership. Times are currently uncertain and changing, and the world is not just about the actions or motions of leadership; it is also about the e-motions.

Motion focuses on behaviors and actions, while emotion focuses on passion and meaning. Motion is knowing what to do, while emotion is finding The Grand Why. Motion gets things done while the leader is present, while emotion bolsters good behavior even in the leader’s absence. Leaders in motion differ from leaders who understand emotion. The latter fathom their role as what we call Meaning Makers.

So, how can leaders bridge strategy and execution in a way that will promote sustainable growth? We believe the solution is guiding employees to find meaning at work. 

People search for meaning at home, in relationships, in spiritual pursuits, and even through hobbies. But most of us spend most of our time at work than in any of these other efforts. Work is a common setting in which people can cope with their need for meaning. Leaders who are meaning makers are sensitive to this fundamental human need, and leaders who are emotionally capable will support and guide this meaning-making process. Data strongly suggest that meaning-rich employees create a synergy that leads to increased productivity and growth.

At ACT Consulting International, we believe in empowering employees to do meaningful work. Leaders can achieve this through building and integrating meaning into their work to create a more synergistic and effective work environment.

Source:

  • Steger, M.F. (2020) Creating Meaning and Purpose at Work. In J. Passmore (Ed.) The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of Positivity and Strengths-Based Approaches at Work (pp. 60-81). Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
  • Ulrich, D., et al. (2010). Leaders Who Make Meaning Meaningful. Ivey Business Journal. Retrieved from https://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/leaders-who-make-meaning-meaningful/ 

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