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Leadership Lessons From a Powerball Jackpot

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in Remarkable Leadership with Kevin Eikenberry

And the numbers are … 7 10 22 32 35 and 19.jackpot

If those were your numbers last night, you won the fourth largest Powerball Jackpot ever … and you probably aren’t reading these words.

So you didn’t win (neither did I). And while you may not have played last night, you’ve likely played the “what if I won” game sometime in the past. Part of that game always is: Would you keep working?

Admittedly it is a hypothetical question, but it raises a really important point.

Why do you go to work each day?

Frequent surveys find that most supervisors think the number one reason people come to work is for a paycheck, yet when employees are asked about the relative importance of money among workplace motivatorsit typically falls in third to fifth place on the list.

To that point exactly, sometimes the winners of jackpots say, “I’m going to keep my job — I love it” or some variation of it.

We all want to pay the mortgage, eat and live comfortably; but is money the only or most important reason we go to work?

As a leader it is important to think about this question from two perspectives, so let’s do each of them now.

First, personally:

  • Why do you go to work each day?
  • What gets you excited about your work?
  • What are your favorite parts?
  • In what ways do you feel like you make a difference?

It is great if you know the answers to these questions. If you don’t, you will become a happier person and a better leader if you take the time to understand your answers to these questions.

If your answers to these questions are powerful and meaningful enough, your answer to the “What if I won” question would be yes, I’d go back to work — the work means more to me than just a paycheck.

Beyond the hypothetical, if you have reviewed your answers and found (or been reminded) of the meaning your work brings you, it is time to use that meaning and that passion to lead more effectively. 

Once you have answered the questions above for yourself, it is time to put on your leader hat — because this whole jackpot thing raises important leadership questions too, including:

  • Would any of my people stay if it wasn’t about the money?
  • What value do they gain from their work and their professional life?
  • What is the intrinsic meaning or purpose of the work we do?
  • What can I do as a leader to create, reinforce or build more powerful meaning to the work of my team?

When we see our work as more than a paycheck, we will work harder, smarter and more productively. When we see our work as more than a paycheck we will be more loyal, stay in our organization longer, provide better customer service, and work safer. 

Stated another way — all good things come when people enjoy and care about their work. As a leader we can influence those facts in small and large ways every day. And the sooner we take action on that idea, the more effective and successful we will be.

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