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Try These 3 Essential Nutrients to Improve Morale


It will be interesting to see what happens with the recent unionization attempts at Apple.


Regardless of outcome, this trend of organizing at large corporations such as Amazon and Apple resonates with a truth described by Self-Determination Theory (SDT).

SDT begins with the assumption that “people are active organisms, with evolved tendencies toward growing, mastering ambient challenges, and integrating new experiences into a coherent sense of self. These natural developmental tendencies do not, however, operate automatically, but instead require ongoing social nutriments and supports. That is, the social context can either support or thwart the natural tendencies toward active engagement and psychological growth.”

The “nutriments”, or nutrients for healthy development and functioning are the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. I like to teach these as your “CAR”.

When these needs are satisfied, people will develop and function effectively and experience wellness but when they are thwarted, people will more likely evidence ill-being and non-optimal functioning. In other words, morale suffers and productivity plummets.


Let’s briefly look at each of these essential nutrients:


1. Competence—We have a psychological need to feel accomplished and competent. Feeling competent gives you and your team a sense of empowerment that does wonders for the quality of our work, and this has a positive effect on other areas of our lives as well. Often, we miss out on realizing the true greatness within us by embracing the “good enough”. (Much more on this by Jim Collins). This is true for both the individual and the collective. As a leader it is important to continue to lead—and feed— yourself. Maybe it’s time to take that online class or get that additional certification. How about making a commitment to read for 30 minutes a day for self-improvement? Does your team need to be encouraged to do the same?


2. Autonomy—How much independence do you have at work? Are you able to exercise your mind creatively or has work become a drudgery and completely out of your control? How much independence are you allowing your team? Out of necessity, some teams should be more tightly managed than others. However, as a leader it is important to make sure you maintain a healthy balance between the conventional and the creative. Each team can and should decide how a healthy balance looks for them.


3. Relatedness—Having a shared sense of purpose with your peers and reports creates a special kind of synergy that makes everyone’s work more effective. During this new era of Work from Anywhere (WFA), this is more important than ever. What are you doing to foster this synergy?


I recently shared a quote from Dr. Joe Dispenza that “21st century leaders know how to make the right choices and consider the whole in order to get a group of people, a community, an economy to the next level.

True leaders define the company from a vision of the future instead of the old habits and traditions of the past.”


How are you driving your organization forward as a 21st century leader?


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