On Management

Dec. 21, 2004
Changing the way America works (Part I).

This column is the first of several that will carry a similar theme: "Changing the way America works." That phrase has two meanings: changing the way people work (and view their work) and changing the way our institutions and our country work. Recently, I contacted author Richard Barrett, whose philosophy about the work environment is very similar to mine. Barrett describes himself as "an architect of transformation and a spiritual teacher." He believes that "success depends on an organization's ability to integrate the interests of the company with the interests of the worker and society as a whole." And he continues to define his concept of spirituality when he says, "In a work context, or in a life context, it's all about finding meaning through the work you do, making a difference, and being of service in some way -- to society or humanity." In the business world, the words "spirit" and "soul" make hard-nosed managers cringe. "Here comes that touchy-feely stuff again," they moan. Although what Barrett has to say might be described as being touchy-feely, it really lies at the heart of what makes people tick. And people are what make businesses tick -- and prosper. Barrett's most recent book, Liberating the Corporate Soul (1998, Butterworth-Heineman), outlines his beliefs. For example, he delineates the Seven Levels of Organizational Consciousness: 1. Survival consciousness -- in the world of work, one's job and financial security. 2. Relationship consciousness -- an individual's need for friendship and camaraderie at work. 3. Self-esteem consciousness -- the need to gain respect and feel good about yourself. 4. Transformation consciousness -- when you become so uncomfortable with some aspect of your work and life that you reexamine your beliefs and choose to change. 5. Organization consciousness -- the search for meaning through the work you do. 6. Community consciousness -- the desire to make a difference in the world, your workplace, and community. 7. Society consciousness -- when you are concerned about ethics and service and strive to find purpose, meaning, and significance in everything you do. In our conversation, I asked Barrett to explain his two primary mantras: (1) "Who you are and what you stand for are becoming just as important as what you sell." (2) "Organizational transformation begins with personal transformation. Organizations don't transform, people do." Barrett observes that many people leave their jobs when organizational values are not aligned with their own and when they do not find fulfillment in their work. Often people feel the need to put on their "game face" at work in order to earn respect -- but this is not their real face. After a while, the duplicity becomes so stressful and frustrating that they can no longer sustain it and be happy or satisfied. Barrett also defines seven levels of leadership: authoritarian, paternalist, manager, facilitator, collaborator, servant/partner, and wisdom/visionary. His words resonate with my own beliefs. And his final set of principles agrees with what I have found to be keys to success:

  • Investment in personal fulfillment is essential for high performance.
  • Relationships are the engines of success.
  • Vision, evolution, and transformation drive long-term growth.
  • Organizational transformation begins at the top.
  • Shared ownership -- psychological and financial -- leads to common wealth.
  • Connectivity and alliances build success.
I could go on, but by now you probably get the message -- his and mine. Helping people to find purpose, meaning, self esteem, and fulfillment in their work -- and sharing the wealth that results from success with partners who bring about that success -- is the way to win in this millennium and the next. John Mariotti, a former manufacturing CEO, is president of The Enterprise Group (www.shape-shifters.com ). He lives in Knoxville. His e-mail address is [email protected].

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