- Money cannot buy you happiness.
- Money may not buy happiness, but it will buy things that make you happy.
- The more money you have, the happier you are.
- Seeking wealth, status, or image undermines interpersonal relationships and connectedness to others.
- Pursuing money or other materialistic values results in feeling pressured and controlled.
Did you answer True to #1? Most of us have held a programmed value since childhood that money doesn’t buy us happiness. If it did, we reason, we wouldn’t see rich people with substance abuse issues, struggling with their weight, or defending themselves in court against character or behavior accusations.
Ironically, I find that people also answer True to statements #2 and #3. Despite believing that money cannot buy happiness, they believe that money can buy things that make us happy and that the more we have, the better off we are. But that isn’t logical. If money doesn’t buy you happiness, how can having more money buy you happiness?
Research supports the notion that money and happiness are related, but not in the way you might think. If it were true that money buys the things that make us happy and that the more we have the happier we are, then we would expect happiness scales to increase when per capita wealth increases. But that isn’t the case in the United States or any other country in the world. Pursuing and achieving material wealth may increase short-term mood, but it does not increase one’s sustainable happiness.* Both statements #2 and #3 are False.
Not only does money not buy happiness or the things that make you happy, but the more that materialistic values are at the center of your life, the more the quality of your life is diminished. This lower quality of life is reflected in a variety of measures including low energy, anxiety, substance abuse, negative emotion, depression, and likelihood to engage in high-risk behaviors.
The Problem with More
Interestingly, when individuals are asked what level of wealth they need to be happy, both the poor and the rich respond with relative amounts of “more.” No matter how much you have, you always want more—more money, belongings, toys, status, power, or image. But here’s the thing: No amount of riches will buy security, safety, trust, friendship, loyalty, a longer life, or peace of mind. Moreover, thinking you can buy these things destroys any real chance of experiencing them.
Therein lies the problem. We’ve been programmed to believe that our well-being depends on the quantity of what we have. There is a current TV commercial where a little girl tries to explain why more is always better—which is the message the advertiser is trying to convey because that’s what they are offering you—more. The irony is that the little girl simply cannot explain why more is better. It really is funny. But it disproves the very point the advertiser is hoping to make. More is not always better—it is simply a belief that most of us have yet to challenge.
Quality Over Quantity
What if we were to turn the table and focus on quality over quantity? Consider your answer to statement #4. Did you answer it True? One of our most basic and crucial human needs is for relatedness with others. This longing for connectedness is obvious in the explosion of social media and online dating services. The lack of relatedness is detrimental to everything including the quality of our physical and mental health. Research indicates that relatedness is thwarted by the pursuit of materialism.* Yet we rarely link materialistic values and goals to the undermining of interpersonal relationships that influence the quality of our life.
Statement #5 is also True. If you follow any of the popular culture regarding the effects of extrinsic motivation, or what we call suboptimal Motivational Outlooks, you understand the negative impact that feeling pressure or control has on creativity, discretionary effort, and sustained high productivity and performance. And yet, organizations are hesitant to generate alternatives to pay-for-performance schemes and incentivizing behavior, despite the proof that those systems based on materialistic values generate the pressure and control that undermine the quality of our work experience—and our results.
Our Values Shape Us
And here is a great sadness. When you operate from materialistic values, it not only undermines your well-being, it also negatively affects the health and well-being of others. When our focus is on material pursuits, we become less compassionate and empathetic. Our values shape the way we work, play, live, and make decisions. And those decisions impact the world around us.*
Each of us has an amazing opportunity with the understanding gained through recent research and the evolution of human spirit. We can shift our focus from the value of materialism to the more empowering values of acceptance, compassion, emotional intimacy, caring for the welfare of others, and contributing to the world around us. Not only will this shift in focus improve the quality of our own lives, it will also create a ripple effect that ultimately will improve the quality of life for others. For the reality is that the most important things in life cannot be bought. Indeed, they are priceless.
* For supporting research and more information on this topic, I highly recommend the following resources:
- The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser
- The Handbook of Self-Determination Theory Research by Deci and Ryan
- The Price of Inequality by Joseph E. Stiglitz
- Website: www.selfdeterminationtheory.org
About the author:
Susan Fowler is one of the principal authors—together with David Facer and Drea Zigarmi—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ new Optimal Motivation process and workshop. Their posts appear on the first and third Monday of each month.
In a special presentation on Don’t Let Your Ego Hijack Your Career: 4 Warning Signs, David will be sharing some of the latest research on ego, personality, and its impact on leadership behavior. You’ll learn four warnings signs of an overactive ego and three ways to keep your ego in check. The webinar is free and seats are still available if you would like to join over 500 people expected to participate.
Immediately after the webinar, David will be answering follow-up questions here at LeaderChat for about 30 minutes. To participate in the follow-up discussion, use these simple instructions.
Instructions for Participating in the Online Chat
- Click on the LEAVE A COMMENT link above
- Type in your question
- Push SUBMIT COMMENT
It’s as easy as that! David will answer as many questions as possible in the order they are received. Be sure to press F5 to refresh your screen occasionally to see the latest responses.
We hope you can join us later today for this special complimentary event courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies. Click here for more information on participating.
Why don’t employees do what they are supposed to do? Former Columbia Graduate School professor and consultant Ferdinand Fournies knows. Over the course of two decades, Fournies interviewed nearly 25,000 managers asking them why, in their experience, direct reports did not accomplish their work as assigned.
Here are the top reasons Fournies heard most often and which he described in his book, Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed To and What You Can Do About It. As you review the list, consider what you believe might be some of the root causes and solutions for each road block.
In Fournies’ experience, the root cause and solution in each case rests with the individual manager and employee. Fournies believes that managers can minimize the negative impact of each of these potential roadblocks by:
- Getting agreement that a problem exists
- Mutually discussing alternative solutions
- Mutually agreeing on action to be taken to solve the problem
- Following-up to ensure that agreed-upon action has been taken
- Reinforcing any achievement
Are your people doing what they are supposed to be doing?
What’s the level of purpose, alignment, and performance in your organization? Do people have a clear sense of where the organization is going and where their work fits in? Are they committed and passionate about the work? Are they performing at a high level? Take a look at the conversations and relationships happening at the manager-direct report level. If performance is not where it should be, chances are that one of these roadblocks in getting in the way.
PS: You can learn more about Ferdinand Fournies and his two books, Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed To and What You Can Do About It, and Coaching for Improved Work Performance here at Amazon. Both books are highly recommended for your business bookshelf.
Ask employers why people quit a company and 9 out of 10 will tell you it’s about the money. Ask employees the same question and you’ll get a whole different story. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) discovered this when they asked 19,000+ people their reasons for leaving as a part of exit interviews they conducted for clients. The top 10 reasons why employees quit? Check out the responses below.
As reported in (2005) The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave by Leigh Branham, page 21, Figure 3.1
Yes, compensation was a factor in 12% of the cases, but look at some of the other issues that drove people away—growth, meaningful work, supervisor skills, workload balance, fairness, and recognition—to name a few.
What type of environment are you providing for your people?
Author, speaker, and consultant Leigh Branham, who partnered with PwC to analyze the results of the study identifies that trust, hope, worth, and competence are at the core of most voluntary separations. When employees are not getting their needs met in these key areas, they begin to look elsewhere.
Wondering how your company would stack up in these areas? Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself. How would your people respond if they were asked to rate their work environment in each of the following areas?
- I am able to grow and develop my skills on the job and through training.
- I have opportunities for advancement or career progress leading to higher earnings.
- My job makes good use of my talents and is challenging.
- I receive the necessary training to perform my job capably.
- I can see the end results of my work.
- I receive regular feedback on my performance.
- I’m confident that if I work hard, do my best, demonstrate commitment, and make meaningful contributions, I will be recognized and rewarded accordingly.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
Better compensation is only a part of the reason why people leave an organization. In most cases it is a symptom of a more complex need that people have to work for an organization that is fair, trustworthy, and deserving of an individual’s best efforts. Don’t take your people for granted. While you may not be able to provide the pay increases you were able to in the past, there is nothing stopping you from showing that you care for your people, are interested in their long term development, and are committed to their careers.
Why don’t more employees do what they are supposed to do? Author and consultant William Schiemann might have part of the answer—only 14% of the organizations he polled report that their employees have a good understanding of their company’s strategy and direction.
He shares that fact and some of the causes as a contributing author in Performance Management: Putting Research into Action. Using the results of a Metrus Group survey he identifies six gaps that get in the way of organizational alignment. While each factor on its own isn’t enough of a problem to explain the overall poor alignment figure, Schiemann believes that it is the cumulative effect of each gap that explains the overall misalignment.
How would you score?
Take a look at some of the key alignment factors that Schiemann identifies below. As you look at the numbers from other companies, ask yourself, “How many of these alignment factors could I cumulatively answer “yes” to on behalf of my company?”
From Performance Management: Putting Research into Action (2009) page 53, Figure 2.2 “Why Strategies and Behavior Disconnect: Percentage of Rater Agreement.” The percentages represent the cumulative agreement of raters for each element and for the ones above that element.
Strategies for closing the gap
For leaders looking to close the alignment gap in their organizations, Schiemann recommends seven key steps:
- Develop a clear, agreed-on vision and strategy.
- Translate the vision and strategy into clear, understandable goals and measures.
- Include and build passion for the vision, strategy, goals among those who are implementing them.
- Provide clarity regarding individual roles and requirements and link them across the organization.
- Make sure that people have the talent, information, and resources to reach the goals.
- Give clear, timely feedback on goal attainment.
- Provide meaningful incentives to encourage employees to develop or deploy sufficient capabilities to achieve the goals.
All good performance begins with clear goals
No organization can perform at its best with only 14% of its people rowing in the same direction. Take some time this week to check in with your people. Are their key goals and work objectives in line with the overall strategy of your organization? Do they see how their work fits in and do they have the tools, resources, and authority to get the job done?
Take the time to set (or reset) a clear direction today. It can save a lot of time, work, and wasted effort down the road.
In The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, author Michael Gerber identifies that everything a leader does begins with a common understanding of his or her company’s prime objective. This includes a clear sense of what the company stands for and where it is going.
Scott Blanchard referred to this book and the importance of making sure everyone in your organization understands its prime objective as I interviewed him for an article that will be appearing in a leading business publication later this summer. Scott is an Executive Vice President with The Ken Blanchard Companies and the co-founder of Blanchard Certified, a cloud-based leadership development program.
During the interview I asked Scott about accountability and a leaders role in it. It’s an issue that comes up often, especially for new leaders. They find it difficult to hold people accountable for results and to call them on it.
Blanchard caught me by surprise when he suggested that accountability is often a by-product of an alignment issue. In his experience, accountability issues usually stem from an employee not truly understanding the role that they play in helping the organization achieve its prime objective. He explained that the best leaders are the ones that make an organization’s prime objective crystal clear and then make sure that everyone knows how their individual roles tie-in.
One of the tools that Blanchard likes to use is an impact map that creates a very powerful line-of-sight where people can understand the results they are being held accountable for, the behaviors that achieve those results, and how those results contribute to the success of the organization.
In Blanchard’s experience, accountability rears its head when people don’t have line-of-sight alignment and aren’t bought into the bigger picture.
As Blanchard explains, “We’ve been exploring extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation and what we’ve found is that holding people accountable pales in comparison to creating conditions in an organization where people are intrinsically motivated. You cannot crack the whip enough, or hold someone accountable enough, to achieve the kind of results you can if people understand the vision, care about it desperately, and see themselves as a part of it.
“Create that kind of alignment and you won’t have to worry about accountability. Instead, employees will start holding you accountable as a leader to clear the way and help them get things done.”
Accountability issues? Check alignment first
Cries for accountability are usually a clear indicator that things are out of alignment within an organization. Is accountability an issue in your organization? If so, double-check for alignment first.
When people understand where their organization is going—including the role they play in it—they step up, work less selfishly and they tend to make better business decisions on behalf of the company. That’s because they can see the impact of every decision and how it impacts overall results.
Alignment helps people attain a sense of accomplishment. That’s a foundational concept and a key aspect of a satisfying job and a satisfying life.
What’s your approach to accountability? In the organizations Blanchard works with that are outperforming competitors, they are not talking about accountability. In these organizations accountability comes naturally from inside each of their employee’s hearts and heads. You can do the same. Get the alignment right and you’ll get the accountability right. Start today! It’s good for the company and good for the individual.
The topic of well-being in the workplace is getting a lot of attention right now. The January/February issue of The Harvard Business Review featured articles on “The Value of Happiness – How Employee Well-being Drives Profits.” Since people spend more time at work than in any other single environment, it behooves leaders to create organizations that foster the well-being of its members.
Yet few organizations see personal well-being as an important focus for their business, nor do they understand the powerful connections between personal well-being and organizational success. Study after study has shown that when individual employees experience well-being, they consistently apply their skills and hearts in service of company goals and customers, adapt more flexibly to change, and are more creative and proactive problem solvers.
My colleagues at The Ken Blanchard Companies, Lisa Zigarmi and Chris Edmonds, have published a new book titled #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, that presents 140 short, actionable quotes on how to create and manage well-being in the workplace. Zigarmi and Edmonds present five “pillars” of well-being that are essential for positive workplaces. The five pillars are positive:
- Emotion – people function best in workplaces that provide a sense of satisfaction, achievement, and safety
- Relationships – human beings were created to live and work in community and our bonds of relationship are the most significant source of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being
- Meaning and purpose – again and again research shows that a sense of meaning, purpose, and doing worthwhile work is more important to employees than pay, status, or title
- Accomplishment – achieving mastery over work and working in service to a goal, group, or purpose beyond one’s self is a key driver of personal well-being
- Health – more than the absence of sickness, health is the balanced approach of taking quality time for work, family, and self, including total body exercise
Tweet #45 is the one that stood out to me. Zigarmi and Edmonds say “When you maintain a safe, open, trusting work environment, people bring all their skills and all their heart to the work opportunity.”
The foundation of any healthy, positive work environment is a culture of trust. When trust is present, people are willing to take risks, go the extra mile, and offer the best they have to give. The sense of safety and security that comes with a high-trust culture allows people to focus on the goals at hand rather than spending time questioning decisions or doing just the minimum amount of work to collect their paycheck.
Well-being in the workplace begins with trust, and Lisa Zigarmi and Chris Edmonds provide leaders with actionable steps to create a healthy, affirmative work environment where every individual contributes, connects, succeeds, and thrives.
This is one in a series of LeaderChat articles on the topic of trust by Randy Conley, Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies. For more insights on trust and leadership, visit the Leading with Trust blog or follow Randy on Twitter @RandyConley.
There is one aspect of a leader’s personality that is both their greatest asset and greatest potential liability at the same time. And if it is not dealt with correctly, it has the ability to stop a promising career dead in its tracks.
That element of human personality is ego, and its power is seductive.
Early in a leader’s career, it helps a young executive seek new innovations, stay the course when others would quit, and push through to higher levels of excellence where others would settle for less. But if a leader does not channel their ego properly it can also lead to a willful disregard of reality, a lack of self awareness, and an unquenchable need to be the best.
When that happens, the results can be disastrous. In their book Egonomics, authors David Marcum and Steven Smith point to Ohio State research that shows
- Over one third of all fatal business decisions are driven by ego.
- Nearly 2/3 of executives never explore alternatives once they make up their mind.
- 81% of managers push their decisions through by persuasion or edict, and not by the value of their idea.
So how can you draw on the benefits of ego while avoiding the pitfalls? How do you find the combination of intense professional will and extreme personal humility that Jim Collins describes in his best-selling book, Good To Great? For Collins, part of the solution includes
- Conscious personal development
- Help from a mentor
Madeleine Homan Blanchard, cofounder of Coaching Services at The Ken Blanchard Companies agrees and recommends a similar course of action. In a recorded webinar on Leaders: Avoid These Fatal Flaws, Homan-Blanchard recommends that leaders keep their ego in check through three strategies.
Name it and claim it—Without self awareness there can be no restraint or modulation. Know your least desirable traits and own up to them. Learn what triggers you and leads you to engage in your worst behaviors.
Get feedback and commit to development—Ask questions. Sit down with direct reports and find out what you could do to be a more effective boss. Listen carefully and say, “Thank you,” when they offer feedback. Take action on trouble spots.
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you—Be courageous when hiring. Make sure you have colleagues and direct reports who think differently from you. Also make sure you have at least one colleague you can count on for an honest opinion and who serves as your “truth teller.”
You can watch Homan-Blanchard’s complete recording of Leaders: Avoid These Fatal Flaws here courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies. Also be sure to see this week’s live webinar being conducted by Scott Blanchard on Cultivating Employee Work Passion: The New Rules of Engagement
Although some features of a narcissistic personality may look like confidence or healthy self-esteem, it’s not the same. Narcissism crosses the border of healthy confidence and turns into a self absorption that puts your leadership at risk.
Now, instead of a healthy confidence that is attractive to followers, you come across as “conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may have a sense of entitlement. And when you don’t receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you may become very impatient or angry,” according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
How can you tell the difference? Here are ten warning signs. While all of us could probably see something of ourselves in this list, identifying closely with more than five of these characteristics could signal an overactive ego and an at-risk leadership style.
10 Symptoms of Narcissism
- Believing that you’re better than others.
- Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness.
- Exaggerating your achievements or talents.
- Expecting constant praise and admiration.
- Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly.
- Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings.
- Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior.
- Being jealous of others. Believing that others are jealous of you.
- Setting unrealistic goals
- Having a fragile self-esteem. Being easily hurt and rejected.
Regaining your balance
Is your ego on overdrive? If that’s the case, here are some suggestions for keeping things in perspective.
Practice humility. Mathew Hayward, author of Ego Check recommends that before you make any big decision, ask yourself three questions. “Am I getting the right input into this decision?” “Do I have someone whom I can trust to tell me when I’m wrong?” “Am I the very best person to be making this call?”
Be curious. David Marcum and Steven Smith, authors of Egonomics encourage you to, “Give yourself permission to test what you think, feel, and believe to be true. Remember that you aren’t expected to know everything about anything.” They also recommend that you seek the truth. Find out what is really going on. It helps close the gap between your perception and reality.
Practice self-compassion. Authors Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell of The Narcissism Epidemic remind you to be kind to yourself while accurately facing reality. Also, be mindful. Practice living in the present. It keeps the self from entering every experience in your life. Mindfulness quiets the self-absorbed voice in your head so you can see the world more clearly. Finally, acknowledge commonalities with others. Research shows that when narcissistic personalities discover something in common with others, egotism dissipates.
Best-selling business author Ken Blanchard often tells his audiences that EGO stands for Edging Good Out. Don’t let an overactive ego limit your effectiveness as a leader. Keep things in perspective for best results.
Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms from Mayo Clinic website
Ego Check by Mathew Hayward
Egonomics by David Marcum and Steven Smith
The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell
Join The Ken Blanchard Companies for a complimentary webinar and online chat beginning today at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time (12:00 noon Eastern). Dr. Vicki Halsey, author of Brilliance By Design will be discussing learning and application strategies for leaders in a special presentation on 6 Keys to Creating Learning Experiences that Inspire and Engage.
The webinar is free and seats are still available if you would like to join over 600 people expected to participate.
Immediately after the webinar, Vicki will be answering follow-up questions here at LeaderChat for about 30 minutes. To participate in the follow-up discussion, use these simple instructions.
Instructions for Participating in the Online Chat
- Click on the LEAVE A COMMENT link above
- Type in your question
- Push SUBMIT COMMENT
It’s as easy as that! Vicki will answer as many questions as possible in the order they are received. Be sure to press F5 to refresh your screen occasionally to see the latest responses.
We hope you can join us later today for this special complimentary event courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.
Now posted! View recording of 6 Keys to Creating Learning Experiences that Inspire and Engage