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Techniques leaders can use to diminish the Monday morning slump

By Dudley Slater  bio

The numbers are sadly staggering. Some 70% of American workers are not engaged and dread Monday morning, according to an annual poll by the Gallup organization.

Many are quick to blame the organization, the working conditions or that old, tired industry. If only I worked for the next Google, that would be exciting. If it were that easy then why were highly compensated, key executives recently bolting from Uber like the building were on fire?

In fact, the leader is at the center of this problem and here is why: people become demoralized when they conclude that they are showing up on Monday morning in order to enrich and empower the executives. Consider this simple test: would the average American worker rather work toward a Cause or Mission or would the average American worker rather work toward the enrichment and empowerment of their boss?

No-brainer, right?

Sadly, it seems some 70% of America’s leaders think that their mere title and position of power, by itself, is sufficient to earn the following of those in their charge. These leaders think nothing of behaving in ways that signal to their employees that the success of the organization hinges on their brilliance and raw managerial capacity. Think of those organizations that operate under the name of the founder. Think about those organizations where the CEO pays himself or herself two, three or, in some cases, over 10 times more than the others on their team. Think about those meetings where the leader stands in front of the room and dominates the meeting with their charisma and brilliance. While there are successful organizations that operate under this brand of leadership, these leaders run the risk of communicating to their employees that they don’t matter, or worse, that they show up every Monday morning just to enrich the guy or gal whose name is on the top of the building. Talk about deflating!

The company I co-founded and ran for 15 years grew from start-up to national prominence because of its impassioned and committed employees. After spending two years interviewing other CEOs of iconic national companies I discovered a common theme among those organizations that were also able to build a culture of impassioned employees: the leaders learned to adopt behaviors that communicated that they were more, or at least equally, committed to the Mission when compared to their commitment to their own selfish interests. These leaders learned to lead by employing a philosophy I describe as Fusion Leadership, where they actively seek to fuse their employees together in service of a shared Mission or a common cause.

So where do you stand on the question as to whether your behaviors evidence your commitment to your company’s mission rather than your own self interest? Most of us are quick to assert our place on the “right” side of this selfish-ego v collective ego dilemma. Yet, when pressed, results show that few leaders take the time to carefully think this through.

Communicating your commitment to the Mission requires a vigilant, conscious awareness of the message you are delivering with each of the daily decisions that tempt your selfish interests. Who do you prioritize on your calendar and how much time do you invest with your front line workers? When you conduct a meeting, who emerges as the smartest person in the room? Whose job is it to step-up and serve that particularly challenging patient? When crisis strikes, who takes ownership?

Truly successful leaders learn how to shift their conscious focus and embrace the selfish-ego v collective-ego dilemma, recognizing that employee engagement is earned one decision at a time. Darrell Cavens, founder and CEO of Zulily, vulnerably shares the story of difficult personal growth he experienced as he grew to understand his early career approach to conducting meetings. General Robert Van Antwerp, former chief engineer of the Army Corps of Engineers, didn’t discover one of his most effective leadership tools until challenged by the stress and heat of the Saudi desert and Operation Desert Storm.

These and other iconic national leaders demonstrate that the best technique to diminish the Monday morning slump begins with connecting their workers to the Mission, communicating through their daily actions where they prioritize their self-interests relative to the organization’s Mission.

Author Bio

Dudley Slater is the author, with Steven T. Taylor, of Fusion Leadership: Unleashing the Movement of Monday Morning Enthusiasts [Available September 12, 2017, Greenleaf Book Group Press]. Slater was the co-founder and CEO of Integra Telecom where he grew the company from nine to over two thousand employees, transitioning it from a start-up to national prominence as one of the ten largest fiber-based telecommunications companies in the United States. Under Slater’s leadership, Integra raised over $1.3 billion in capital and constructed one of the most advanced metropolitan fiber networks in its region, helping to earn him the distinction of being named “Entrepreneur of the Year” in the Northwest in 2011 by Ernst & Young.
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