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  • Writer's pictureBenoit Hardy-Vallée

30 - On meaning and leadership - a conversation with Stephen de Groot

Key Points

  • COVID is both a health crisis an existential crisis. People are re-evaluating things – we are looking at our health, our morbidity our fallibility, the things that are important to us, but also what we are vulnerable to.

  • Turnover stems from that re-evaluation - because work is a really big part of their life, people are reconsidering whether they want from work

  • While many people are leaving, many others are still considering leaving – they are not leaving the workforce, they're leaving their work.

  • The great resignation did not come out of nowhere – we were off balance and struggling long before the pandemic. Engagement was getting worse every year.

  • Even in 2013, the London School of Economics and the World Health Organization stated that depression and mental health issues would be increasingly important (see and ); that if we don't keep an eye on mental health it would be a major crippler and driver of demobilization in the workforce. The pandemic was not only a catalyst, but an accelerant for people to really take stock as to where they are.

  • There is another group that doesn't have that privilege to leave their job to find something else due to the responsibilities they have for their family - a massive amount of people that are still at work, but not committed, a more serious problem. We can talk about the “war for talent”, but millions of people are still there and need something very different for their work.

  • Meaning is a satisfying or fulfilling experience with one or more aspects of our work. Some people find interactions with clients meaningful; some people find having coffee and meeting at lunch meaningful.

  • The dilemma right now is how can you create a meaningful experience for your employees if you don't know which aspect of the work they find the most meaningful?

  • Managers may not be able to change employee’s job or what is happening to them, but can create a more meaningful experience through that.

  • Lack of recognition is the biggest killer of morale – we should be recognized for positive work versus just hearing about when we're doing poorly

  • Value incongruence it happens when we behave in a way that is incongruent or out of step with the core values, or incongruent with what we say is important.

  • Recognition and value concurrence flow through leaders - they have the ability to thank people more and recognize them, they have the ability to ask if we living our values, are we behaving in a way that aligns with our values?

  • Communication is not necessarily connection – it is important, not for everybody to be on the same site, to walk down to the water cooler and have coffee but to up connection quality, not necessarily connection frequency

  • All the work-from-home surveys only provide information about where that person wants to sit, not what is important to them. It doesn't tell why would I want to work at home - is it because I'm closer to my children or because I don't like being close to my manager. That would be a significant piece of information to get from an employee.

  • We like change when we are involved and have a voice or a choice. When the change holds meaning to us, we understand it; when it doesn't have meaning for us we resist. This is important for managers - simply connecting with our team and saying “I want you to be involved”,

  • The brain hates uncertainty. Saying things like “you're on a need to know basis” and “you don't need to know”, or “that's how we do things around here”, or “that's above your pay grade”, all of these create uncertainty.

  • Uncertainty is the friendliest face of fear. People need connection, which has strong relationships with trust; they need clarity, which is understanding what's coming next; and they need comfort. When managers can bring that to them, they give them what the brain needs..

  • One of the most overlooked qualities in leadership is willingness. A lot of people are promoted up fast without even given the opportunity to say if they want this or not. The second most important thing is that you must really care about humans. Leadership is not a hobby

  • Leaders need to send three messages. (1) “I care about you and I want your success.” (2) “I want to provide you with a great leadership experience”. (3) “I want to have a strong working relationship with you”

  • Brivia:

  • Stephen de Groot

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