To be truly relevant, all change, learning and development must enhance the success of the corporate mission. In our experience, completing the mission and full engagement are nearly synonymous. Mission success is best served when the full power of human energy is recruited in the service of the mission. That is the core of what full engagement means—physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with the mission.
The single most important factor in mission success is clearly preparation. Be it in sports or business, there are four critical areas of preparation that support the success of any mission.
Engage the Spirit
Several things are important here. The first involves knowing what the exact mission destination is. In the most precise language possible, what is the mission? How will mission success be defined? Another critical consideration in the context of engaging the spirit is to clearly establish mission importance. In the whole scheme of things, how important is the success of this mission? Once mission importance has been established, the mission must then be linked to the core values of those involved, with the objective being 100 percent commitment from everyone. The last consideration here is to establish a clear code of conduct for the mission based on both personal and organizational values. Put another way, what are the rules of engagement that govern how we will interact with each other in the pursuit of the mission?
Engage the Mind
This begins by facing the truth in two areas. First, face the truth about where you are now relative to the intended destination, and second, face the truth about anything you or others are currently doing or not doing that potentially threatens the mission. Once these are accomplished, the next critical element in engaging the mind is determining when and where energy investments need to be made to successfully complete the mission. Tough decisions have to be made about the relocation of energy resources. Clear thinking, vigilant awareness and a laser focus on what’s really important are all part of this. Finally, an accountability system should be designed to measure progress. The more tangible and concrete the accountability system is, the better.
Engage the Heart
This area of preparation is emotional. A major factor in mission success is recruiting the emotions that serve the mission and suppressing emotions that undermine it. Fear, frustration, cynicism, disbelief, distrust and pessimism can completely derail even the simplest mission. Negative emotions are both highly toxic and contagious. Positive, opportunistic emotion in the spirit of challenge, excitement and a sense of adventure create the highest-quality fuel for the mission. Establishing clear emotional expectations for managing obstacles and setbacks is indispensable to any mission.
Engage the Body
Every mission requires that a certain quantity of energy be invested to achieve success. Engaging the body begins with a commitment to do everything possible to produce and maintain ample energy reserves for the mission. Adherence to protocols for food intake, sleep, hydration, exercise and rest is clearly linked to mission success. Taking care of the body is mission-relevant. Depleting physical energy reserves can have tragic consequences emotionally, mentally and even spiritually. As we have learned so clearly in sport, fatigue can make cowards of us all. An important aspect of leadership is getting everyone critical to the success of the mission committed to managing physical energy skillfully.
It’s clear that we perform best when we are on a positive mission that deeply matters to us, when our full and best energy is aligned with the targeted mission, and when we are laser-focused on everything that really matters to the mission. We also perform best when we are engaged in the service of a mission perceived to be attainable, and when we maintain an energy bank account sufficient in size to cover any withdrawals required by the mission.
Chief learning officers must be experts in the technology of mission success. Preparing employees to complete the mission may well be the most important learning objective.
Jim Loehr and Jack Groppel are co-founders of LGE Performance Systems. Both are pioneers in the field of performance science and have coached thousands of people in business, law enforcement, health care, education and sport. E-mail Jim and Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org.