I had the privilege of conducting a workshop on Total Leadership a few days ago at Teach For America’s headquarters in New York. When you exit the elevator on TFA’s main floor in this modest office building on an industrial Midtown street, you see a blue wall on which these words appear in white:
One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
It’s immediately apparent that everyone who works for this rapidly-growing, non-profit powerhouse (at which the average employee age, from my observation, cannot possibly exceed 30) – from the facilities maintenance guys to the receptionist to the senior management team – is deeply committed to this vision and subscribes to its core values. Number one of the five of these is this: Relentless pursuit of results.
How, you might ask, does this square with the organization’s equally emphatic commitment to personal and professional alignment (a management precept so commonly grasped it’s referred to by its acronym, PPA)? Here’s what management says about how results are to be achieved: “We assume personal responsibility for achieving ambitious, measurable results in pursuit of our vision. We persevere in the face of challenges, seek resources to ensure the best outcomes, and work toward our goals with a sense of purpose and urgency.” The obsession with results corresponds to a healthy laissez faire approach to when, where, and how these results are achieved. There’s lots of flexibility and trust is assumed.
TFA members are there because they believe in what they’re doing. But this isn’t your ordinary volunteer outfit. The standards for performance are super-high. Acceptance criteria for members of the teaching corps are incredibly stringent, and increasingly so. Indeed, especially in the current economic climate, I confidently predict that service to society will be the most attractive sector in the labor market for new entrants in 2009 and that competition for jobs at TFA will be greater than for those at Goldman Sachs.
Hanging out with the talented people of this wonderful organization left me smiling; feeling inspired by the power of their zest for making a positive difference in the lives of others. There’s no gap between the goals they pursue at work and the goals they have for their contribution to their community and society.
So, today’s questions for you: Does your work enable you to contribute to social good? If not, or not enough, what might you do to make it so? How would such a change affect your performance at work; in the community; in your family; and in the private sphere of your mind, body and spirit?
I know you may have a little experience with Detroit and the problems the auto industry faces. As I was watching the auto bailout go down in flames from what one Senator described as ” just one date that the UAW refused to give them on not parity, but competitive pay with Toyota, Honda etc. in the US” All parties had given up so much, but the UAW chose to allow this one sticking point to derail the process. Was it because they knew they would get their way eventually? I realize that labor and managemnt are always at odds, but it seems as if this would be the time to save everyone. (It would have not hurt their image and cause in the long run either.)Your thoughts?
When I worked as Executive at Citibank I collaborated with Junion Achievement during 3 months. I taught a Personal Finance course to 11-14 years old children. It made me a better person at work and at home. I also helped me to educate better my children later. Finally from a personal point of view I feel very satisfied about that experience.
“Indeed, especially in the current economic climate, I confidently predict that service to society will be the most attractive sector in the labor market for new entrants in 2009 and that competition for jobs at TFA will be greater than for those at Goldman Sachs.” Stew, what a prediction! Check out this article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704198004575311052522926796.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_opinion