Returning to work after the festive break, especially for those who have had upwards of ten days off work, can be tough. Of course, we all need a holiday to recharge the batteries, but the first day back after the festive break seems to be responsible for generating the longest of faces on that first commute to work. 

Not so, however, for those who own their own business, according to some interesting research by Sage UK some 63% of entrepreneurs won’t have taken any additional days off during the Christmas break. Of course, there are many who would pessimistically claim that this level of commitment is purely financial (if I don’t work, I don’t get paid) – but others will hopefully acknowledge that for some of the 63% who didn’t take the time, it was down to the passion and commitment that they have for their businesses.

Of course, we are by no means advocating not taking a break, but no matter the motivation of these entrepreneurs, how powerful would it be for business leaders and HR teams within organisations to be able to instigate this kind of commitment among their own team of individuals?

A team of people who not only operate with their heads, but with their hearts as well, will look forward to returning to work after a break of any length, not necessarily because they are thinking about what they will ‘get’ in return, but because of what they can ‘give’ to the team to help it reach set objectives.

Take the example of the entrepreneur, the key commitment driver for those who own their own business is that every decision and move they make will have a consequence for them and the business. Ultimately, they are responsible for those moves – there’s no-one else to blame. How can that commitment be cascaded down throughout the business, so that the type of loyalty to results shown among entrepreneurs is reflected by more and more?

Well, on the Personal Leadership Programme (PLP) we talk about leaders changing the way they think, and communicating trust to those they work with to pull them into thinking and acting for themselves. All too often leaders believe their way is the best, or worse still, the only way to succeed, but this is rarely ever the case. It is the leaders who, both at work and at home, who have the capacity to empower those around them to align their goals and objectives, and then allow them the space and freedom to make the decisions that will enable them to achieve those objectives.

Just a few weeks ago we blogged about the way GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical giant, offered financial investment to the teams of scientists who came up with the most promising ideas to take the business forward in terms of research and development – and this is a classic example of empowering individuals to feel committed and involved in a project. It works.

The Sage research shows that entrepreneurs have some pretty high commitment levels when it comes to work, but this doesn’t have to be exclusive to business owners, it can be equally felt among small teams in large companies too. The first step, however, is for business leaders to consider how much they may be inadvertently quashing this entrepreneurial spirit in their drive to achieve results in their tried and tested ways, and how much more responsibility they could be passing across to their team members. Try it in 2012, the results will be incredible.

Emma Littmoden
Partner at The Living Leader
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