Creating a Culture of Contribution with Tom Rath


There's this crazy thing going on right now. The United States is filled with people that deeply want to care about the work that they do every single day and at the same time the United States is simultaneously filled with business owners. Who are desperately looking for people that care about the work that they do every single day. So why exactly? Can't we figure this out? Why can't we bridge this gap from the Ramsey network? This is the entree leadership podcasts. Where we help business leaders grow themselves their teams in their profits. I'm your host Alex Judd. And today we're talking to world renowned researcher and the best selling author of the new book. Life's great question. Tom Rath and in the mountains of data that he has collected on high-performing leaders teams in the workplace. He's found one very specific pattern a pattern. That could help bridge the gap between leaders and their teams. That pattern is an increased focus on contribution. Yeah you know one of the things that I realized pretty quickly as I started to look at the broad challenges that we face out there. Today in terms of the fundamental relationships people have with their work which on average across organizations are nowhere near as good as they could be one of the challenges. Is that There's just a huge misalignment between all of the individual talent. That's out there in the marketplace today. And what the world needs and so you know we've been pretty good over the last hundred. Two Hundred Years. It aligning products and services with what customers need. But we haven't made anywhere. As near as biggest strides in terms of matching individuals are with the demands that are out there in the workforce today. And what I realized as I dug deeper into this as we've done a pretty good job of helping people to understand their own talents there on passions and their own interests. But we really haven't done much with trying to determine what are all unique ways in which we can contribute to others lives in a real meaningful and productive way and you know I was deeply inspired by one of my favorite quotes from Dr Martin Luther King Junior and I something I asked myself. Every single day which was his famous quote about life's most persistent and urging question is. What are you doing for others boy? I think that's just a great way to Orient. Your Day orients your day around contribution and adding to things that will continue to grow in your absence. So that's what helped to focus a lot of this work powerful as you were saying that I was thinking about that John F. Kennedy. Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. And it's amazing how The Martin Luther King Quote John F. Kennedy quote. There's something that when we hear that we kinda say that's right. That's what I need to be spending my time on and it's related to that topic of contribution so I'd like to know. How do you define that word contribution? Yeah you know it's interesting. I worked through a lot and was the first thing about. How do you help people to connect with a purpose or meaningful work which you hear a lot about it when I really got into the practical application of how do you get? People focused outward instead of inward every day and focused on how they're adding another person's contribution is really about the small bricks that you're adding to a wall over time essentially and it's more of the things that you're doing in the next hour today that might had to someone else's well being might inspire someone a day from now that in my case with my kids might contribute to their development and growth even five ten years down the road on days. When I'm not there helping so I think contribution I would define it as anything you do. That has a positive influence on another human being the continues to grow in your absence and those things usually start small and grow over time continues to grow in your absence. Why that Fraser? Why is that important as part of this definition? Well you know that's important to me from some of my own personal learnings. I talk in the opening of this book about how when I was sixteen years old. I was diagnosed with a real rare condition. I went blind in one eye. Because of it and doctors told me that I would be likely to have cancer. In my kidneys and pancreas and spine over whatever course of a life. I might live and I've battled cancer and all those areas and I bring that up because what it did was even from that young age over the last twenty five years. It got me very focused on. What are all the that I can work on this afternoon? Then we'll continue to grow tomorrow week from now year from now and eventually when I'm gone and what I've learned that experience there is you know it may sound kind of morbid from the outset but when you start to think like that it really does get you focused on more productive efforts during the day and things that you can feel good about tomorrow and many years from now and he gets you focused on what I would call or what I think I David Brooks talked about this about a year ago New York Times Column More Eulogy Values instead of things that go on a resume that are more sterile and tactical so it almost sounds like you're talking about like a mindset or an attitude for leaders but also just for individual team members is this mindset developed like do you have to go through a life altering transformative experience like you did to change your mindset or is it learned or how can we build up this kind of way of looking at the world that contribution is the first thing that we're thinking about. Yeah you know. I think it's like a lot of habits is a great question because it's in my experience in working with people working layers. It's bill with repetitions and it's built one day at a time and if you can step back and say in the next three hours what could you do? Even for fifteen or twenty minutes that would make a meaningful contribution to the growth and development of one other human being whether that's someone who looks to you for leadership whether that's a customer whether that's a family member just taking that daily focus is what helps you to build cumulative days that are better and better as time goes on and you know the other thing. I've learned that's been. I'm through this project in the last year with the book and the website around contribution is the more time you can allocate. That's directed outward toward contribution to others in meaningful efforts during the day. It actually minimizes a lot of the normal stressors that we have with all the things flying at us and all the pressures and demands of the day. And the more time you spend looking inward it actually leads to more insecurities more stress in the like where when you can anchor. Even a few of your efforts outward it takes a lot of that pressure off in the process. That's pretty remarkable. And I love that you talk about it as a habit because that sounds like something I can take action on. That sounds like something I can control. That sounds like something. Every leader can invest their time into. So what is the practical action? People can take daily or maybe even hourly to just start moving their mind towards an attitude and a posture of contribution. Yeah I think that's where it starts. It starts with bringing the humanity back into the work that we do on a daily basis and having conversations about it with our team members because one of the things that I realized when I got into. This is every time we sit down as a team to start a new effort instead of looking at other members of the team joining the group and saying what's there background. What is their resume. Look like what's their bio. What's their job description? We need to sit down and have a more personal conversation about who we are and why we do what we do each day. So that's why as part of this book. I put together a resource for people where they can go through and say. What are the big roles you play in life so for me? That's being a dad and a husband and a researcher and sometimes a writer and what have been the most influential life experiences that have shaped by what I do and so if you sit around and talk about that as a team had helped to bid and then maybe most importantly anytime you bring a group of people together or the whether that's two or three or five or fifteen people if each person can go around and say how do I think I can make a unique contribution of this team because so often we all get excited about something and we're just off and running without even having a discussion to make sure that each of us feels like we can make a meaningful contribution and we're doing that in complementary ways instead of ways that essentially overlap and it takes six months to realize. Oh we were all doing the same thing

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