Editor’s note: I’m excited to welcome a new guest blogger to the Event 360 blog. David Berry’s professional passion is helping leaders find the courage and wisdom to create environments where they, and the people they lead, can creatively explore the limitless possibilities of their potential – and build rock-solid organizations while doing so.

In David’s third post of a five-part series, he asks one of the five fundamental questions every leader must answer in a clear and compelling way if they want to build an organization of maximum engagement. Since we know that employee engagement typically runs at about 30% this is no small task. But, since we also know that organizations with higher engagement also deliver better results it’s something that cannot and should not be ignored. To that end, over a series of five posts Davis is asking you to consider these questions in the hope that you will be motivated to think deeply about and take action on your own answers. The only thing at stake is the full engagement of your team in a cause worth fighting for.

Question #1: What will your organization look like five years from now?

Question #2: Why are we going there?

Question #3: What’s in it for me?

If in your leadership communication to me, a current or possibly future follower, you have been effective in providing a clear and compelling response to my first two questions – “Where are we going?” and “Why are we going there?” – you’ve likely piqued my interest by tapping into my emotional desire to be a part of something significant and meaningful. Now, it’s time to make it personal. As compelled as I may be by your vision about where this ship is headed it is vital that you address my implicit need to know what I stand to gain by signing on for the long days and even longer nights of tough and challenging work. Why would I offer you my discretionary effort, that most creative, curious and energized part of me without having a clear understanding of the payoff? And please don’t be confused, I’m not talking about the money.

Frederick Herzberg, in one of the most popular HBR articles of all time – “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?” – famously discusses the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In short, you can’t buy my engagement, my best and most committed performance, with extrinsic motivators like salary, benefits, or bonuses or with environmental elements like coffee bars, foosball or beanbag chairs. What you can do is provide the opportunity for me to use my strengths to make an expert contribution and then challenge me to outperform even my own expectations – to stretch, learn and grow; you can give me real accountability and responsibility for a “complete process”; and you can provide me with direct, clear and unfiltered information about the enterprise and my contribution to it.   

If you address these elements for me in a clear and personal way, describing to me how, through autonomy, responsibility and achievement I will make a lasting contribution to our shared vision, you will have gone a long way toward personalizing and deepening my engagement in the cause. You will have an open door to the very best I have to offer.  


David Berry (@BerryDavid on Twitter) inspires and challenges leaders to make the modern workplace more fully human. His personal conviction and conversational good humor capture the attention of his audiences while his insight and awareness challenge them to have new conversations about both personal and organizational renewal. Audiences have described him as being informative and inspiring, relevant and revolutionary, self-effacing and passionate. David’s blog, Leading Change, is a chronicle of his experiences in learning and leading. You can contact David through his website or via LinkedIn.

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