Competitive Advantage with Self-Concordant Goals
‘Our people are our greatest assets’. Many leaders say this and act on it some of the time when things are going well. Others say it but don’t behave in a way that supports it. A few leaders say it, believe it and consistently foster a culture that puts people first.
“Companies that go from good to great, start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”
Good to Great – Jim Collins”
In ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins uses the metaphor of putting the right people on the bus and letting the others get off. He observed that great companies picked their people before deciding which direction the bus would take – ‘Who, Then What’.
Footdown believes in putting people first. One of our goals for Footdown and the organisations it helps is to align people with the culture and values of the organisation in a genuine way that recognises the individuals’ true purpose and values. People looking to join Footdown are asked about their personal needs; this is a vital part of our process for choosing the right people. We start all our company meetings by asking people to score how they feel about themselves, their family and friends, their colleagues and the organisation. The four scores give us a fast way of assessing the well-being of the attendees and the potential impact on the meeting.
Choosing the right people and checking in with them from time to time is not enough to ensure that people remain fulfilled and that the organisation is being the best it can be. The organisation’s goals have to be compelling to the individual even when the ‘bus’ takes a new path. Why is this important other than an organisation feeling good about itself, a laudable goal in itself?
Is there any evidence to show that people with goals aligned to their interests and values perform better?
In a number of related studies, two psychology professors – Dr. Kennon M Sheldon and Dr. Andrew J Elliott – looked for evidence that people pursuing self-concordant goals (those consistent with the person’s developing interests and core values) performed better and achieved greater well-being. They and others had observed that individuals set goals for themselves but often fail to complete them. They also observed that individuals who attained their goals often felt no happier than before. In the studies they wanted to see whether individuals taking on self-concordant goals had different results.
Sheldon and Ellliott make the link between goals and needs satisfaction. According to self-determination theory, humans have three basic psychological needs: competence, autonomy and relatedness:
Competence – feeling effectual rather than feeling inept.
Autonomy – behaving in a meaningful way rather than being pressured or coerced.
Relatedness – feeling in harmony with important others rather than alienated.
Sheldon and others showed that all three needs ‘help “make for a good day”, i.e. all three independently predict daily positive mood, vitality and physical health’. Hence one of their studies had the aim to show that the accumulation of experiences of competence, autonomy and relatedness impacted well-being over time.
The studies showed that people do better at self-concordant goals because they put more sustained effort into their attainment. It is perhaps not surprising the study showed that people who accumulated feelings of achieving goals in an effective, self-driven and connected way had improved well-being. Further attaining self-concordant goals leads to the largest degree of enhanced well-being. On the other hand, one of the conclusions of the studies is that ‘to the extent that goals do not represent or tap authentic self-based values and interests, the infusion of goals with energy may be distressingly temporary’.
Leaders who say that their people are their greatest assets and behave like it are not just altruistic. They could be gaining a competitive advantage for their organisations. Careful selection of goals can lead to improved performance and happier people.
The Footdown Performance Method integrates the performance of the individual with the organisation in a unique way that allows people to diagnose and hone their Goals and Purpose, particularly as they relate to Role in an organisation.
For more information please contact us : 01225 465640 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Goal Striving, Need Satisfaction, and Longitudinal Well-Being: The Self-Concordance Model (1998) – Kennon M. Sheldon, Andrew J. Elliott
Daily well-being: The role of autonomy, competence and relatedness – H. T. Reis, K. M. Sheldon, S. L. Gable, R. Roscoe, R. Ryan