If you haven’t read Whitney Johnson’s article in Harvard Business Review this month, it’s worth your time. It’s a great examination of what we’ve been calling “The Great Resignation” for a while now.

But what if it’s something else?

Whitney writes: “It’s been called the Great Resignation, but I push back against that descriptor. I am inclined instead to name it the Great Aspiration. Having been so deeply disrupted by the pandemic and forced to make abrupt and significant changes under pressure, many people reevaluated their priorities and are now making changes of their own choosing: Where to work and for whom, where to live, whether to return to the office or continue working remotely, how to accommodate the needs of children and elderly parents, etc. All of these and other questions are being examined, and we’re finding new answers. Workers are aspiring to proactively make the life they want.”

Fascinating, right?

It begs the question – are you living the life you want?

Are your team members?

Do you know?

In my recent book, I spend a chapter focusing on one of the key principles of Catalytic Leadership – building up people and teams. People can be complicated and messy. And often, leaders can see them as a distraction from the work they have to do. If we could just do what we do without all the messy people, how much easier this would be! But when we think or say that, we miss a critical part of what leadership is.

The people we lead are not a distraction from the work – they ARE the work for a leader! Our job is to serve those we lead to be the best version of themselves. Are we helping them to proactively make the life they want to live?

There is an old Zig Ziglar quote that says, “If you help enough other people get what they want, you will get what you want.” As a Catalytic Leader, what I want is to help the people I lead to succeed. If they are leaning into their wiring and design, if they are utilizing their skills and gifts to the max, and if they are finding fulfillment in being a part of something much bigger than just themselves, in my experience they will find success. That’s what I want for them!

Too often, leaders can fall into the trap of just wanting something FROM the people on their team or the people they lead. Danger, Will Robinson, Danger! Instead, we should be focused on what we want FOR them.

I want those I lead to achieve their deepest aspirations.

I want them to find a strong measure of fulfillment and satisfaction in what they do.

I want them to achieve what they are capable of (and sometimes, they’re not aware of what that is just yet).

When we focus on what we want FOR them, not FROM them, they understand that we are FOR them, and that creates a healthier and more satisfying work experience that they’re not just itching to escape from at the first opportunity. (See Jeff Henderson’s excellent book Know What You’re FOR to learn more on this shift).

Some questions that might be helpful as you consider this:

  • What is the best way I can contribute to our team’s success?

  • What does my team need from me that only I can bring?

  • How can I serve my team members where THEY are (not where I think they should be)?

  • What are the intentional ways I will choose to invest in them this week?

This is a different way of leading. But it is servant leadership at the core, and, in my experience, you won’t regret the results you see.

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