I don’t think work-life balance is the most-important factor for people feeling engaged on the job. Yes employees appreciate leaders who care about their lives beyond work. But work-life balance doesn’t ensure people are happy at work. The work itself must be fulfilling.
In some parts of the world, fulfilling work is defined as having a spiritually enlightening experience. I heard Shriram Darbha, Head of HR for BSE Limited (Bombay Stock Exchange), speak at this year’s World HR and Coaching Congress in Mumbai, India on spirituality in the workplace. He equated engagement with spirituality and said it is too bad the west feels there is no connection with spirituality and work. He said a spiritual workforce is the most engaged and productive of all.
Spirituality, as Shriram explained it, are moments when people feel in relationship with the deepest meanings or powers governing life. They may feel this deep sense of love and gratitude when the work they do is personally satisfying and meaningful for others. The feeling is spiritual whether they call it that or not. In these moments, they feel connected to others, to the planet, to beauty, and with whatever forces are beyond what can be seen.
Conversely, when people do not like their work and feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled, their output suffers. No matter how committed they feel to their responsibilities and team, boredom, disappointment and resentment kill motivation. Engagement erodes. The attitude of “it’s just a job” sets in.
Recall the times when you felt that life was special and you were lucky to be alive to experience the moment. Knowing something awesome is occurring is a spiritual experience.
When coaching leaders, do you notice in them a longing to feel alive and full while working? If you are teaching leaders to coach, do you help them determine how they can create a workplace of alive and full employees? A full spirit keeps the mind engaged.
Leaders might not openly call the environment a spiritual workplace, but they can be trained to be transformational leaders if they learn how to coach people to find meaning in their work and fulfillment in their relationships.
Transformational leaders focus on people’s spiritual growth and development, the expansion of their wisdom, and a sense of delight with work and relationships. Transactional leaders focus on achieving job goals, leaving the spirit of the person out of the loop. In both situations, coaching can help get results. When you teach leaders to coach, how are they using their skills? I find the transition from performance coaching to “person” coaching is difficult for leaders to make. But when they do, they find their coaching to be more fulfilling for themselves as well as their employees.
The magic happens when the love of work supports organizational objectives. The overlap yields extraordinary results. Organizational measures of engagement need to include words such as love, pride, satisfaction, and hope.
Shriram also said that coaching and training leaders must first start with their own sense of connection at work. He said, “A leader’s greatest tools will be to detach from judgment of self and others and to increase one’s sense of humor.” Leaders must model the behavior and emotions they want from others for their leadership to be effective.
Can work be a spiritual experience? If you train leaders to be coaches, consider starting with coaching them to discover the meaning and sense of purpose in their work.
Remember, as a coach trainer, you have to model the behaviors too. Don’t expect great results right away. Detach from expectations. Love them instead. Your energy will be as profound as your teaching.
I know many ACTO members include spiritual concepts in their training. PLEASE SHARE YOUR IDEAS HERE!! Also, you can listen to a past forum call with Peter Reding on Spirituality and Coaching here.
Marcia Reynolds, PsyD, MCC is the Training Director for the Healthcare Coaching Institute