Musings on Work on Labor Day 2015

It seems right to take a moment to reflect on the nature of work today and remind ourselves of the ways we can build meaningful work environments. The holiday has ceased to be an occasion to demonstrate the power of labor unions, perhaps because so many companies now actually strive to be places where human flourishing matters. Barry Schwartz got it right when he said that in talk about fair wages, we ” must ….not lose sight of the aspiration to make work the kind of activity people embrace, rather than the kind of activity they shun. How can we do this? By giving employees more of a say in how they do their jobs. By making sure we offer them opportunities to learn and grow. And by encouraging them to suggest improvements to the work process and listening to what they say.”

Labor Day 2015

I am fortunate to see and be a part of many organizations in the Silicon Valley whose cultures embody these aims. Their leaders strive to build caring and productive organizations where people can express their talents, their personalities, and their interconnectedness. They practice what Warren Bennis described as the 4 competencies of leadership: 1) Adaptive Capacity or the ability to creatively problem solve; 2) the ability to engage others through Shared Meaning; 3) a Distinctive Voice and 4) Integrity. Thanks to them, more of us have something to truly celebrate today – places where “the work is worth doing” and we can bring our best selves to it.