I was reading a great article today on the HBR site, Leadership is a Conversation.  The author makes some good points about the need to shift from a command-and-control leadership style, to one which helps employees not just comply but to be excited to contribute.

I’m a firm believer, because it’s not just about people doing their job.  It’s about increasing their contribution even further than you expect.

Let’s say that you have a contribution you make to the community:  You’re involved in your church, you contribute to a service organization, or you volunteer for a cause.

Why on earth would you do this?  You’re not getting paid for it, and in fact you’re spending your own precious money to do this.

You do it because you believe in the cause, because there’s a more important purpose than making money.

I know it’s almost heresy, but it’s possible to create work environments that have the same kind of engagement.  Where people are showing up because they’re doing something that has a deeper purpose than just a paycheck.

And it doesn’t need to be magnificently world-changing either.  Maybe that employee does the tax returns because … she actually likes accounting!  It uses her skill with numbers and analysis, and she feels rewarded by the fact that she’s doing something which is incredibly useful, she’s good at, and her customers appreciate.

Yes, there are people who get turned on by that.

Even more powerful, maybe she does that paperwork because she so strongly believes in the mission of the company.  Yeah, the work itself isn’t so exciting, but she’s a part of a group who are doing Something Important.  With people who understand and share that passion.

And, referring back to the article mentioned above, THIS is the conversation worth having with your employees!