As part of a research project, the cleaning staff in a hospital were asked about the kind of job they did. The answer revealed an intricate mechanism of job recrafting. They said that they were part of the medical care team because they believed that their job was directly contributing to the patient’s well-being. Researchers could connect this to the phenomenon of natural rewards wherein employees tend to seek and redefine their job in a way that appears naturally rewarding. Most of the salespeople while going through their daily tough grind believe that their job is not to sell but to bring solutions to the customer’s problem. Natural rewards strategy is one of the three components of self-leadership which is essentially a self-influencing process. The other two are thought self-leadership and behavioral self-leadership. Thought self-leadership comprise of several cognitive strategies which include self-talk, mental imagery, and evaluation of dysfunctional beliefs. These cognitive processes help individuals to align their thoughts and focus on the task at hand. The behavioral self-leadership shapes the goal-setting process and build reward contingencies for goal achievement. Within this component are two key aspects of behavior, self-monitoring, and self-punishment, which creates the feedback loop to ensure the discrepancy reduction between the set goal and its achievement. Overall, individuals who practice self-leadership are likely to be super performers and, as the recent research suggests, these performers persist in a turbulent business environment.
Firms have approached employee motivation through two mechanisms; extrinsic and intrinsic. Self-leadership is a cognitive and behavioral motivation that is self-directed. In an increasingly turbulent business environment firms are placing a premium on such self-driven employees. However, at a firm level, self-leadership has the potential to deliver on two critical aspects of modern management; authenticity and a sense of responsibility. An employee with a higher level of self-leadership is guided by a higher-level standard in terms of the required effort, behavior, and alignment with
personal values. Such an employee stays committed to the organizational goals and is less likely to trade off self-influence with external influence(for example, from a boss). The other aspect is about the responsibility which relates to the concern for a greater good involving all the stakeholders. When employees take such responsibility they contribute to the strengthening of organizational values such as courage, compassion, and integrity.
Therefore, firms that actively encourage self-leadership processes are likely to have a large number of self-leaders who pursue authentic choices and select responsible behaviors to achieve the end results.
As the society at large expects firms to be responsible in their business operations and be complaint on ethical and legal dimensions, there was no better time to look inwards. Firms could leverage some of their virtues to attract and nurture employees who could drive the culture of authenticity and responsibility in their respective firms. Self-leadership at an individual level has been an amazing driver of performance. More firms need to adopt this self-influence tool as a baseline employee resource which if deployed well, could put the firms on a path of higher purpose.