Nearly all companies have some master motivators — or what we call “pride builders” — at the front line — those who are able to achieve exceptional performance with their teams by fostering pride in the work each team member does. Pride builders develop deep and insightful knowledge of their people as individuals; they know what matters to them and why it matters. They use this knowledge to create powerful personal connections to the work. They go beyond building pride in the larger purpose and values of the company. They create exceptional performance by building pride directly in what their people must do each day.
Many pride builders are good managers, but they are very different from other good managers. For example, while good managers link the work to the larger mission and vision of the company, pride builders create emotional connections between the work and what matters most at personal level to their people. While good managers set a clear direction and create momentum by focusing on results, pride builders create momentum for results that becomes self-reinforcing. They focus on the behaviors required for results (i.e., the journey) as well as the results themselves (i.e., the destination). While good managers help those with strong potential progress along their development paths, pride builders act as powerful agents for each one of their people’s development needs and opportunities. Essentially, they enable people to be the “best they can be.”
Pride builders are valuable to an organization in a number of ways. First and foremost is the far-reaching impact they can have on performance. In addition, pride builders are in a unique position to spot roadblocks and provide potential solutions along the way. When necessary, pride builders will find creative ways to work around roadblocks in formal systems and processes to meet their performance goals. Given their position at or near the front line, they also often see opportunities that go unnoticed at higher levels in the organization. On a broader level, pride builders have the ability to foster alignment around company priorities and strategic goals by finding ways to connect those priorities and goals to the day-to-day work of their teams. By using pride builders as a source for ideas and solutions and using them to inspire behavioral changes, corporate leaders can have a significantly higher impact on frontline performance that would otherwise be impossible.
To unleash the potential of pride builders, you must first identify a handful of them and understand what they are doing differently. Although all pride builders create strong connections between what individuals care about on a deep personal level and the work they do, pride builders differ among themselves in the details of how they operate. This is true for a number of reasons: e.g., the actual work tasks vary in different parts of the company and the circumstances, skills, and preferences of pride builders and their teams differ. As a result, it is critical to understand how pride builders operate within your company. The “best practices” of pride builders in other companies are much less useful.
Identifying pride builders is a two step process. The first step is to develop an initial short list of potential pride builders. The second is to select a few true pride builders on the list and understand how they operate.