Advisor of Leadership at Google and former vice president of leadership at LinkedIn claims that the biggest driver of motivation is the chance to serve a larger purpose beyond our careers and ourselves, rather than salary, benefits, bonuses, or other material incentives; companies that are able to successfully focus their people, their teams, and their culture around meaning outperform their competition.
Fred Kofman's approach to leadership has little to do with the standard practices taught in business school and traditional books. Bringing together economics and business theory, communications and conflict resolution, family counseling and mindfulness mediation, Kofman argues in The Meaning Revolution that our most deep-seated, unspoken, and universal anxiety stems from our fear that our life is being wasted--that the end of life will overtake us when our song is still unsung. Material incentives--salary and benefits--account for perhaps 15 percent of employees' motivation at work. The other 85 percent is driven by a need to belong, a feeling that what we do day in and day out makes a difference, that how we spend our time on earth serves a larger purpose beyond just ourselves.
Kofman claims that transcendental leaders, wherever they are in the hierarchy, are able to put aside their self-interests and help others to feel connected with others on a team or in an organization on a great mission and part of an ennobling purpose. He argues that every organization involved in work that is nonviolent and non addictive has what he calls an "immortality project" at its core. And the challenge for leaders is to identify and expand on that core, to inspire all stakeholders to take part.
Kofman, LinkedIn's v-p of executive development, delivers an earnest if overblown treatise on the power of inspiration as a leadership value. According to Kofman, many workers are disillusioned and unhappy because traditional command-and-control leaders rely on incentives, financial and otherwise, to encourage employees which fail to actually inspire. Such leaders end up struggling with the challenges of disengagement, while their organizations stagnate. Transcendent leaders, on the other hand, inspire their followers by communicating that their workday has been spent improving the world in some way. Kofman stresses that workers need to know that their work has meaning, rather than simply having the chance of an annual bonus waved in front of them. Kofman guides readers through the quest for fostering a meaningful corporate culture, harmonious collaboration, and humbleness in the C-suite. All solid advice, but his admonition to stop relying on financial incentives and to instead bring employees into alignment with the company's goals and values has been delivered elsewhere, many times. Readers stuck in a missionless rut may find the guidance helpful, but overall, this is a lot of book for comparatively little payoff.