An activist mindset matters for leaders. Equally essential, an activist mindset matters for contributors. A motivating equilibrium happens when both are in an activist mindset. The equilibrium is a platform in which everyone:
- Performs at the highest level
- Enjoys the work and the partnerships
- Solves problems and achieves goals to make a positive difference (profit and purpose)
Although activists are accused of being idealists, the reality is when leaders and contributors are in an activist mindset, great things happen. Being an activist leader and contributor is not an easy task. Effort and growth are required.
When this state of activism does not happen, culture crumbles. Individual fulfillment disappears. Too often, this is the state of our workplaces today. Employee engagement programs failed, because we set the bar too low and became distracted from how we need to meet in the spirited middle.
We need a shift.
Activism requires a different leadership mindset, just as it requires a different contributor mindset.
An Activist Leader Formula
Let’s explore what happens when leaders and contributors do not meet in the middle.
Uninspiring Leader, Activist Contributors
At times, the team is just better than the leader. Have you ever worked for a leader that is dull, or worse, out of touch with reality? I have. My first boss fell here. As a leader, he just took a formula that seemed to work for others and apply it as if it was his own. It fell flat.
As a team, we were motivated by the purpose of our mission. We had a bad leader, yet we were committed to the cause. We had our doubts, though. There was a time when we were all ready to walk out. However, we know we would do more unintended damage by that action. We stuck it out to the end of the initiative.
We had a lot of internal churns, and it was caused by an uninspiring leader.
Activist Leader, Uninspiring Contributors
Some leaders are just good individuals. They have the principles and values you admire. Within their character, teams can trust them and know things will come together in the right way. However, activities can get sidetracked or bogged down when team members don’t do their part or cause friction within the team. Some contributors may just take advantage of a well-intentioned leader.
Contributors are leaders, too, in what they do and how they do act. You can have the best leader and still be miserable as a team. What usually happens is a wrong individual or individuals are hired. Their contributions don’t stack up to expectations, and other contributors get infected and dissatisfied.
Responsibility to expose these realities needs to come from the contributors, along with the leader being attuned to the cause of the sluggish results.
The best-intentioned leader can hire the wrong people. The best-intentioned contributors can get off track and pull others with them. Empathy with grit to understand and then act is required.
Uninspiring Leader, Uninspiring Contributors
When an organization has uninspiring leaders and contributors, an unexpected danger arises. A false sense of “everything is OK” arises. The two uninspiring forces seem to cancel each other out, and a state of mediocrity takes hold. We get trapped into believing all will be fine.
And then the unexpected expected happens. Our business crumbles, being overtaken by new technology and business models. We become scraps for another business to salvage.
Too many businesses and organizations fall into this trap. Without an inspiring, motivating spirit, we ignore trends, refuse to change our minds, and then wither away. Negative growth is painful, and it can be avoided with the right mix of inspiring and aspiring leaders and contributors.
Inspiring Leader, Inspiring Contributors
A simple, powerful formula is:
Inspiring Leader + Inspiring Contributors = Activated Culture
Getting this formula right is tough, hard work. The formula does not guaranMitee results, but it will greatly increase your odds more than any other way. Leaders, contributors, and organizations that get this right make a big difference today and in the future.
- They make a difference in the marketplace.
- They make a difference within their stakeholder community.
- They make a difference within their culture.
- They make a difference in individual lives.
- They make a difference in their neighborhoods.
- More than all of this, they make a difference in the homes and families of all that work there.
To achieve this state, it begins with an activist leader mentality and inspires an activist contributor spirit.
Getting to this activist state is the challenge for the next generation of leaders. Engagement is a failed mission. The time is here to adopt an activist model and embrace it fully within your leadership and contributor teams.
The Millennial Leadership Challenge
Millennials have the mindset to get this right. Older generations need to share their experiences to build strength in the next generation as well as provide the platform to tap into and unleash their power of being an activist.
An activist within your business and organization will set the stage for a healthier path ahead. Are you ready to shift to an activist state of leadership?
Join the Conversation
When Imbalance Strikes the Activist Leader Formula
I’ll raise my hand! I want to work in an activated culture! Then again, I always thought, who doesn’t? Interestingly, through my coaching practice I’ve worked with a few “under performers” who confided that they really just want a job where they can show up, do the work, go home and get paid. They’re clockwatchers. When the leadership team asked me for a status update on the turnaround, I have to be honest. Sometimes there are mismatches between leadership, contributors and culture. However, I also believe that at least a few of these people, in another environment would indeed be activated and thrive.
As always, you have me thinking. Love how you’ve laid this out. Excellent!
Thank you for your perspective and experience. You hit a key point. An activated culture is not a solo effort by some manager. Individuals needs to be active in their work, interactions, and much more. What brings leaders and team members together is clarity of purpose and clarity of values and then a match between desired behaviors and actual ones. Thanks for adding to the conversation and thoughts. Very grateful, Jon