Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach and master motivator who led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships and two Super Bowls during the 1960s, observed, “Individual commitment to a group effort—that’s what makes a team work, a company work, a society work.”
In academic circles, a key component of “individual commitment to a group effort” is defined as discretionary effort. More colloquially, discretionary effort can be described as things people do because they want to, not because they are told to. As such, it represents a significant source of potential energy to foster innovation and drive change within organizations. Unfortunately, this huge well of potential energy goes untapped as the vast majority of employees are not engaged at work.
Gallup’s engagement research reveals that only 36 percent of employees are highly involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and their workplace. Worse, Gallup found that 14 percent of employees are actively disengaged, which it defines as employees who have miserable work experiences and spread their unhappiness to their colleagues. To put these findings in context, only 36 of 100 employees who come to work every day are willing to go the extra mile; 50 are treading water; and 14 are actively pulling others down.
Zappers vs. Sappers
William Byham taught us that leaders can be energy “Zappers” or “Sappers.” Zappers walk into a room and light it up; Sappers walk out of a room and light it up. Research has shown that Zappers attract and retain better talent, deliver more creative and innovative solutions, and activate more discretionary effort within their people. Sappers, on the other hand, have twice the negative impact on performance as Zappers do. When it comes to sapping discretionary effort, it seems that misery loves company.
To unlock the potential energy of discretionary effort in organizations, leaders must shift from Sapping to Zapping by tapping into the intrinsic motivational levers of autonomy, mastery, and purpose that compel people to go the extra mile because they are doing what they want to.
So how many people do you plan on Zapping today?