Your Team’s Two Types of Labor

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

We know that the most effective teams collaborate, take ownership, and improve results.

We know that the leaders who build these teams have the experience and emotional intelligence to understand how their mindsets and actions affect those they lead, enabling the development of trust that strengthens relationships and cultivates their teams’ shared accountability.

And, we know that these leaders, who rightly acknowledge their responsibility to develop the talents of those they lead, continuously engage with their teams, providing opportunities for members to improve both their functional skills and their ability to manage emotions while they work together to make a difference.

Because leaders realize how this combination of competencies impacts the achievement of their goals, they strive to develop both elements in each team member:

  1. To increase the impact of their task-based, functional labor that results in a measured outcome, i.e., parts, product, paperwork, etc., the leader cultivates values like curiosity, innovation, and collaboration in the quest to improve results;
  2.  Concurrently, for these improvement efforts to create sustainable value, the leader helps team members learn to better govern their emotions and attitudes, so they may productively explore ideas, debate differing opinions, and achieve commitment to the best option available. It’s this human, emotional labor, first labelled as such by Arlie Russell Hochschild many years ago, that motivates action by enabling each person to feel seen and valued; it’s what makes work meaningful. Leaders expressing appreciation enable their teams to accept the change risk necessary to deliver improvement.

As the evolution of work continues to trend towards increased automation and AI, it’s the easily measured task work that will first be devalued, automated or outsourced.

On the other hand, it’s the high touch, emotional labor of their people that differentiates a business and yields a sustainable competitive advantage to create lasting value.

How might you better develop both types on your team’s labor?

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