“Effective leadership is about being able to move from ‘Shit Happens’ to ‘Shift Happens.’  Are you truly prepared to be a powerful transformational leader, generating passion, high engagement, innovation and more open perspectives for greater profitability?” – Robert E. Staub II



Creating meaningful employment is essential, some would even say holy work. It is also something Millennials expect and it transforms lives when it is done well. This requires having the means to invest back in the business, pay people a living wage and generate a healthy profit. The research insights over the past twenty years highlight that the key to sustainable profitability, customer satisfaction, quality outcomes and organizational resilience is generating a high level of employee engagement.

The secret to engaging others is found in liberating their purpose, passion and power. It is simple: if you wish to be profitable and to be able to sustain that over time, then you need to actively engage those who work with you in your organization. How do you do this? There are a number of potent ways to engage the passion of others and it has to do with tying into a larger sense of Purpose and in liberating the embedded power of the Human System around you.

Keep in mind that we exist in two very different worlds: the transactional and the transformational. The transactional level of living is captured by the bumper sticker “Shit Happens.” Leaders know that they can make “shit happen”. After all, this is the realm of business, of getting things done, of contracts, time lines and of give and take. The focus is on having and doing, and on “success” as defined by status and bottom-line.

Another common saying also captures what happens here: “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” The transactional realm is best characterized by the phrases “human-having” and “human-doing,” in which people define themselves by what they have or do. To be clear, this realm is essential and nothing happens without a good transactional focus. And yet, neither passion nor high employee engagement can be generated coming solely from this perspective.

The transformational world is that of being, purpose, significance, and deep meaning. It is where love exists and is the domain of spirit and possibility. The wisdom here is, “He who dies with the most toys still dies. What is the legacy?”  The energy of this realm is captured by the phrase “human-being.”  Here people feel valued. They “own” their work and they know they help to make a difference. Through relationship and collaboration, an increased sense of self-worth, dignity and appreciation is generated.

Here people have what they have and do what they do while not defining themselves by either. They feel worthy and in concert with life simply because they are present. The transformational realm is the one in which “Shift Happens” and in which you, with the help of others, can help to reshape your world. This is where passion is liberated, high engagement flows and greater, sustainable profitability is to be found. Combine this with a good transactional focus and magic happens!  So, how do you do this?

Proven methods include:


1. Focusing on the Purpose.  This is the fundamental “why” behind the business. By engaging others in examining and discussing what the enterprise is in service to, employees remember that they serve something greater than the individual transactional tasks of the moment. This helps people to move beyond personal ego, concern and frustration issues.

2. Empowering others. By inviting people to step up and out, encouraging them to exercise judgment and to actively “own” their work output, inspiration and healthy pride for the execution of purpose is generated.

3. Offering Structured Autonomy. This includes designing the work process to allow people to have some say in their schedules, their use of time and allocation of self in their work.

4. Developing Personal Mastery. By ensuring that active learning is taking place, team members feel they are growing through their work in the organization. This means providing opportunities to stretch and work with some independence on initiatives, and offering coaching, mentoring, training and leadership development.

5. Building Esprit de Corps. When people are invited to be part of a high performance team and develop a sense of pride in the team and the work being done, then amazing things happen.


If you want more sustainable profitability, then you will need to increase the engagement of your workforce and that means tapping into transformational leadership, the capacity to move from shit to shift.

After all, we live in a highly mobile age. Millennials can “vote with their feet” for new opportunities, work environments and supervisors who will engage them positively. In other words, leaders are charged with creating a work culture that invites, generates and supports passion as well as high levels of engagement. This happens when people feel listened to, valued and cared for, recognized for their efforts, and able to contribute in service to something greater. Ensure this is standard operating procedure in your leadership and expect greater productivity, improved quality, higher customer satisfaction, better problem solving, innovation and profits.

Are you ready to generate passion AND profits?

Robert “Dusty” Staub is the CEO of Staub Leadership International and the best-selling author of The 7 Acts of Courage. You can find him here: www.theactsofcourage.com, www.staubleadership.com and to view his TedxTalk click this link.


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