While the question, "What is wrong with the world?" certainly has great relevance with the recent Boston Marathon, this question was once asked of English writer G.K. Chesterton who was invited by The Times, along with several eminent authors, to write an essay addressing this topic. I'll get to his answer later, but I am sure we've all at one time or another asked this question of ourselves, our political and/or our religious leaders. It can certainly appear that it is the responsibility of our elected or spiritual leadership to cure the ills of the world but this can be a rather limited approach.
Would it be safe to say there have been times in our lives where we've said or done things that have added to a problem rather than providing a positive impact? We all play a role in our work environment and how we present ourselves and how we behave creates a picture of our own personal leadership effectiveness. Then, when combined into a team, our leadership effectiveness in turn defines the success of our organization. As you can then expect, it is impossible to change an organization without changing each of the individuals who are part of that organization.
The question becomes – how do we begin to transform ourselves? When we begin to look at personal leadership competencies, we see that individuals need personal discipline such as having good habits or getting things done. In order to do that, we must be self-aware of our skills, our areas which require development, our passions and our own particular gifts.
When we engage in a self assessment, we begin to identify if our personal skill gifts are being used, or if we are in positions that squelch our passions. If our passions are restricted in our jobs, then so is our drive and the ability to work through the problems and issues that arise around us. Conversely, when our work responsibilities are aligned with our skills and gifts, we have the power to maximize our personal contribution to our organization. In other words, we are self-motivated to become our best.
It is not difficult to see that the 'fit' of our skills and our passion plays a very key role in defining how well we perform our duties. If we imagine a group of individuals who are motivated and engaged, we can see how they would positively impact the organization around them. That same group, without people who have a clear sense of their own personal leadership effectiveness, will not be able to achieve the same results. Ideally, we want all our organizations to be made up of employees with self-awareness, discipline, and positive attitudes but the reality is that we far from such a world.
So, back to the question, "What is wrong with the world?" When D. K. Chesterton replied to The Times newspaper on this question, he simply answered: "I am!"
If "I am" is the answer for each individual in our workplace, then how does business leadership create a climate where personal growth and personal leadership effectiveness is the norm? If leaders take no action, organizations will continue to exist in a climate where individuals do not fully contribute. On the other hand, leaders who create the opportunity for all employees to develop and grow will pave the way for each individual to make their maximum contribution to the organization.