There are only two things in this world – Content and Context. The stuff we see and do, the Content, only takes on meaning when we understand the Context. Shift the Context and the meaning of the Content looks altogether different.
The Content in this case is the recognition of employees within an organisation by identifying them as ‘Rising Stars’ or ‘Star Performers’. This sounds all well and good and yet these accolades aren’t celebrated publicly in this company. Indeed, those employees so nominated feel a little awkward and embarrassed to admit to others that they are seen as falling into either of these categories. That’s a pity, since recognition amongst our peers is hugely important: it releases the chemical serotonin both within the limbic brain of individual concerned and those of their team. Serotonin is one the ‘Selfless’ chemicals that binds a group together and was essential to how human beings survived and thrived 50,000 years ago when other species didn’t. It’s also one of the key components that contribute to a sense of fulfilment and happiness – and a powerfully performing team. So let’s celebrate success – it doesn’t take much, and yet its effect is long-lasting and far reaching.
But perhaps the real block here is the Context within which these accolades are currently seen. Perhaps these awards are quietly perceived as something to indicate how the individual has made progress for themselves.
So let’s shift the context.
What if Rising Star and Star Performer became a measure of how much the person was seen as being in service of others and the Why of the company? It would likely recognise many of the same people and would also encourage the single most important aspect of leadership: to be in service.
This simple change of context would shift the culture, the meaning of the awards, encourage leadership and identify those who are likely to be the sort of people the company would really want to retain. For the individuals concerned, they could walk into the office with pride in the knowledge that they were seen for their service to others and not their service of self.