Leadership Behaviors That Help Make Work More Meaningful

By Harvard Business Review
July 26, 2018

Here are four key personality characteristics that can help physician leaders make other people’s jobs more meaningful

People experiencing meaningful work report better health, well-being, teamwork and engagement.

Over the past few decades, a great deal of research has shown that leaders play a significant role in helping employees understand why their roles matter.

Here are four key personality characteristics that can help physician leaders make other people’s jobs more meaningful:

Being curious and inquisitive. Curious leaders help people find meaning at work by exploring, asking questions and engaging people in ideas about the future. They are also more likely to get bored and detest monotony, so they will always be looking for people who can come up with new ideas to make their own work experience more interesting.

RELATED: Five Things to Ask Employees Seeking Purpose in Their Work

Being challenging and relentless. Optimistic people who expect to do well often don’t try as hard as people who expect to struggle or fail. Leaders who remain ambitious in the face of both failure and success can instill a deeper sense of purpose in their teams and organizations.

Hiring for values and culture fit. People find something valuable when it aligns with their core needs and motives. Leaders who pay attention to what each individual values are more likely to hire people who find it easy to connect with their colleagues and the wider organization, which helps to drive a sense of meaning.

RELATED: Purposeful Leadership: When the Bottom Line Includes Ethics and Vision

Being able to trust people. Most people hate being micromanaged. Overpowering and controlling bosses are serious source of disempowerment for employees, draining the impact of their work and making them feel worthless. In stark contrast, leaders who know how to trust people are more likely to give employees room to experiment and grow.

These leadership behaviors should exist in concert.  A boss who is challenging but not curious may come across as a bully; a boss who’s trusting but not challenging will seem like a pushover. A good leader must focus on helping employees find meaning in their achievements rather than just enjoying their time at work.

RELATED: Happiness Traps and How to Escape Them Through Purpose, Hope and Friendship

Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Leadership

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