Use it or lose its

Potential is the need of the hour in organizations and few are willing to put in genuine efforts. How can leaders navigate through the situation?  

 by Mahera Dutta

Sloppy’s drooping head is spotted among many who are huddled to listen to yet another version of “CEO speaks’’ in the conference room on a late Tuesday afternoon. He’s suddenly woken up to the resounding voice of his boss’ sermon. “The sky is the limit,” he says while taking a glance at his spectators one of whose hands are flinching to grab a cup of coffee from the newly installed machine to make it through the day.

Sloppy used to be the company’s knight in shining armor. But now, he’s just about bored with any role that the organization offers him. Boss is aware of his hidden potential. The few who try to butter him are no good.

He was considering quitting to follow what his heart desired until the pandemic struck and is now, like many others, feeling trapped and unable to choose what makes him happy. Not every story is a slopy story. Some have worked hard to land their dream job but are still feeling dissatisfied. Unable to use their full potential.

While leaders are quick to harp on an individual’s flaws in the system, they don’t acknowledge how those very systems fail individuals. Fixation of employee attention on profit and power without arming them with capabilities to figure systems which enhance engagement and productivity is a hallmark of firms trudging the path towards “skyrocketing” success but never seeming to get it enough.

Why are we losing instead of using potential?

Corporate norms with its compromises on long-term goals and visions of firms for merely delivering on some short-term ones is not good news. The pressures of short-term performance in organizations are so high that most employees are willing to sacrifice the long-term values of the company. Most employees don’t see the massive economic benefits that senior leaders are raking in which makes them even more frustrated leaving no opportunity to turn into a new leaf.

Authority isn’t performance

Hierarchy is complex. McKinney’s Women in the workplace 2016stated the lack of desire in both men and women to climb up the promotion ladder. Only 40 per cent of women and 56 per cent of men had ambitions to become top executives in firms which hired them. At the CEO level, the demands are superhuman: skilled investor relations, operations, strategy, community relations and politics. Never has holding power sounded so daunting to an individual.

Where are the ‘risk takers’?

People are sticking to jobs not because they’re passionate but because they’re anxious. A stable job offers social security. Making decisions that keep people in their ‘comfort-zones’ hurts their careers but it’s a safety net people aren’t willing to leave to follow their true calling. As many as 41 lakh youth have lost jobs in the wake of the corona virus pandemic in India. Now it has become even harder to chase new opportunities as lesser firms open doors to people during a financial crisis.

Moving toward achieving a higher sense of purpose to unleash potential

Changes in both business priorities and personal circumstances have affected employee’s ability to meet expectations. Smart organizations will make the timely shift to focus on behaviors rather than only delivery and performance. Today, creating an ecosystem which nurtures individual potential becomes very critical.

Agility: empower individuals with autonomy for better decision-making while learning to trust not only your instincts but the instincts of others.

Skill-building: employees must be equipped with the right skills and mind-sets to solve problems with orderly reviews to make sure actions are taken with desired results in mind

Cohesion: Flexible working models free of constraints in the new normal. A hybrid working environment brings in a pool of talent and enhanced productivity.

Learning to Unlearn: The pace and scale of learning must align to changes in the environment with an effort to accelerate capacity-building efforts by developing leadership and critical thinking skills at different levels of the organization, increasing scope of relearning all the time.

Our future in the future of work

Never has there been a better opportunity for the workforce to outdo itself in terms of potential as its metric changes from Ivy- league degrees and business expertise to the capabilities of honing softer skills dealing with empathy, integrity and the ability to cooperate with other employees.

Potential can be unleashed and used with the skills of the future. Employees need to be given more control with pathbreaking changes in the way leaders are cultivated and shits in default metrics for success. Rooting businesses in challenging goals is the first step towards making potential possible. Are you ready to use it?

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