ROI of your Mother? Blogger Chris Brogan saw the author of Crush It, Gary Vaynerchuk, grilled on the return on investment of social media. When he finally had enough, Gary responded, “What’s the ROI of your mother?”
I think the same answer applies to the question, “What is the ROI of soft skills leadership training?” When you think of what a good mother provides – someone who cares about what you want, who helps and encourages you to grow and who inspires your greatness – these are critical attributes for today’s effective leaders. Even when well developed, the direct effect of these abilities, though profound, is difficult to measure.
Lauren Klein shared some thoughts with me from Kenneth W. Thomas, author of Intrinsic Motivation at Work, when he presented to the Executive Networks Global Talent Leadership forum. Thomas says work engagement requires intrinsic rewards, the positive feelings that energize people to do good work. Leaders need to focus on what makes people want to do their best work and stay with an organization, from the inside out. Discretionary effort is fueled by the heart.
According to the Corporate Leadership Council, emotional engagement is four times more powerful than rational engagement from external rewards in inspiring employee effort. They surveyed over 50,000 employees at 59 global corporations. By increasing employees’ engagement levels, they found organizations see increase in performance of up to 20 percentile points and an 87% reduction in employees’ probability of departure. Their study demonstrates a clear ROI of soft skills.
Thomas calls actions that ignite internal motivation “firing up the talent engine.” Keeping the talent engine burning is critical to creating business success in today’s competitive and consistently changing marketplace. Daniel Pink in his book, Drive, says it is critical that a company’s mission and strategic objectives also fire up this energy. People need to feel that the work they are doing is important, even if it is helping other businesses be successful.
Yet all too often corporate executives still focus on using the hard skills of process improvement, increasing efficiency, and creating new business models to try to increase bottom line results. Focusing on old methodologies keeps them hitting their heads on the ceiling of short-term and marginal solutions.
The generations entering the workplace and moving into leadership positions today are used to instantly connecting, collaborating and voicing opinions on the Internet. They expect to have work environments that provide the same atmosphere. The good performers want to have fun, feel challenged and express their creativity. They want leaders who care about what they want, who help and encourage them to grow and who inspire their greatness. I repeat Gary Vaynerchuk’s questions, “What’s the ROI of your mother?”
On the flip side, the younger generations despise workplaces rife with fear and negative emotions. They won’t put up with this nonsense for long, especially when the economy stabilizes and jobs open up.
It’s time to quit giving lip service to the soft skills and truly make them important strategic directives. It’s time for leaders to truly support the development of skills such as coaching, collaborative visioning, emotional intelligence, and team motivation in their young leaders. It’s time to make the workplace a place where people look forward to going to.
Soft skills focused on enriching human interaction get solid, hard results. Do you value caring for, listening to, developing and inspiring others? Then translate this value into reality by putting time and money into ensuring your leaders excel at connecting with human beings.