Shawn Murphy’s “The Optimistic Workplace: Creating an Environment That Energizes Everyone” (AMACOM, $24.95) argues for a highly motivated workplace. In it, leaders become stewards of their workplace, “creat(ing) … contexts that assume people can be trusted to do their best work and to do the right thing,” he writes.
“Actualizing human potential puts the spirit in workplace optimism,“ Murphy continues. Emad Rahim hears a call for change agents. “We all have the potential to transform our organization into something great.” he says. “Greatness is achieved by innovators, creative thinkers and change agents. We all have the ability to display these qualities regardless of our background. We only need to be ready to step up for the challenge when the opportunity appears.” Rahim is Kotouc endowed chair of project management, Center of Excellence, and associate professor/program director for Master of Project Management, college of science and technology, Bellevue University, Bellevue, Nebraska.
How can you learn how to identify an optimistic workplace or a leader who, Murphy says. contributes to “a workplace mood that gives hope that good things are possible. . . The shift is in caring for people in a way that improves their lives and positively influences the value they create for your organization.” But it’s not all touchy-feely.
Scott Brennan, president of BOLDbreak Inc. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, says to hunt for people who motivate teams “through a shared bold purpose, in a group effort to solve a complex business problem.” They nurture “well-being” by empowering themselves through their “signature strengths.” They bring diverse perspectives, according to Brennan and Murphy.
FINDING THE CULTURE
Two years ago, Adrienne Pierce wanted to return to environmental technology, which required leaving technical marketing in manufacturing. “This took some investigation, triangulation and a lot of timing,” she points out.
She identified authenticity as her leading value and hunted for public and private sector leaders who evidenced it. She also identified tolerance for change and uncertainty as positive forces and characteristics of people she likes. Now based in Belmont, California, she’s director of program management, at Sun Edison Inc., headquartered in Maryland Heights, Missouri. She’s thriving in her motivating workplace.
Charlotte Tomic, president of Tomic Communications Inc. in Miami Beach, offers this advice to job seekers. Look for “a collaborative working environment where people are encouraged to share ideas and work as teams without micro-management or fear of expressing themselves” drive a motivating workplace. She further advocates, listening for an offer of an office tour “and openly ask employees what they like about working there.” Watch out for stumbling or inarticulate responses.
Dig deeply. Brennan says to ask each interviewer about the company’s mission, vision and purpose. “Vision is how the company wants to impact the world. Purpose is how the company wants to impact individual people. Mission is how the company will accomplish this.” If interviewers can’t articulate these critical concepts, then there is no shared bold purpose.
When you do find a leader with potential, Brennan recommends assessing the need for your skills. Find out what signature strengths are missing from the current team. If you have others, that good leader isn’t in the correct environment for you.