Ken Manning: President at Insight Principles. Co-author of Invisible Power: Insight Principles at Work: Everyone's Hidden Inner Capacity.
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How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
Ken Manning: Contrary to what most people believe, the first thing that’s important for people to understand is that human beings experience life from the inside out. We’re all experiencing life in our own realities. Understanding that distinction reduces an enormous amount of misunderstanding between people. It eliminates a lot of mental noise that people have.
Human beings experience life from the inside out. We’re all experiencing life in our own realities.
The second thing people need to understand is that everyone is designed for success— everyone has built into them a design to be their best.
People function naturally when they don’t have a lot of noise in their heads. A company operating in a culture with this understanding is in deep respect of the human dynamic—the way it’s naturally designed.
I believe this would be an environment in which people look forward to having less noise in their mind and would be able to sit in their natural abilities operating innately from the inside out.
If people treat each other with this understanding, everything that happens as people interact will support and generate a minimum of mental noise.
That’s what I think it would take to create the workplace that you described in your question. It’s also what we try to accomplish with our company.
What does it take to get an employee's full attention and best performance?
Ken: They would have to have a clear mind and be engaged with something they’re interested in. The company would have to offer an opportunity for them to be interested in engaging in a place that’s meaningful to them.
What would get someone's best performance? It would have to be an environment in which they feel supported—to be at their best, whatever that means for them, which would differ from person to person.
What do people really lack and long for at work?
Ken: People want to have a clear mind and have what’s meaningful to them be respected and appreciated. They want to have the opportunity to engage in something meaningful that is also meaningful to them personally.
People want to have a clear mind and have what’s meaningful to them be respected and appreciated.
What is the most important question leaders should ask employees?
Ken: What’s meaningful to you?
What is the most important question employees should ask leaders?
Ken: What do you need, and what’s meaningful to you in the role you want me to play? And how do you want me to play it?
I think we all need to be in service to each other. Suppose the company is in service to something meaningful. In that case, ultimately, the opportunity is for us to all work together—to do something meaningful together—that's meaningful to ourselves individually in different ways. Picture it as a Venn diagram regarding how our combined efforts will achieve something meaningful for people or the world.
What is the most important question we should ask ourselves?
Ken: What is the most important question we can ask ourselves?
It’s what does the wisdom in me move me to do right now?
I want to ask you a question about the quote below from your book, Invisible Power. How can we more effectively access this wisdom?
"Down one branch of the fork is a life of trying to fix the thinking you already have, chasing after what your thinking has manifested. Down the other branch is a life of you seeing for yourself, in the moment, that the power lies in that invisible, formless place where your thinking comes from—and your potential lies—before you actually think anything. We are pointing to this branch.”
Ken: First, you have to trust that it’s there. Then you have to develop respect for it. You have to make room for it. You mentioned that you thought it was a good thing that I paused before answering your questions. I don’t feel like I’m the author of my intelligence, but I’m grateful I have it.
I have profound respect that if I want to be clear about something—or if I want to get wisdom for something—looking into my analytical processing mind is not the place to look.
I know there is a very fertile, rich living intelligence there in the silence behind my thinking. It's important to create your personal way of connecting to it, respecting it, trusting it, and having a partnership with it.