· Insights

How embracing the whole-self can unleash your organisation’s hidden potential

You’re only ever as good as the capabilities and skills of your people. So is it time to embrace the whole-self and give those attributes a massive boost?

Almost 13 million very enthusiastic people tuned in to watch the Lionesses in their first World Cup Final.

They lost, but in so many ways it was a fantastic achievement.

But what was most noticeable was the enthusiasm, energy and excitement – the sheer buzz – that was unleashed.

If your organisation could take that and bottle it, you would, wouldn’t you? And I am aware that this was only the England team, but I’d like to bet that if the other parts of the UK had been in that final, the energy and focus would have been just as concentrated.

Yet on Monday morning a significant number of that 13 million would have travelled to their offices, at home or in some other location, and, while the final might have been discussed, they’d have simply got on with their jobs.

Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?

We leave those weekend excitements behind us and turn up at our desks, wherever they might be, as if we were different people. We remove the ‘home’ persona and put on our ‘work’ persona.

But what might happen if we didn’t? How can we unleash the power and passion of the whole-self?

Without doubt, there is a huge amount of hidden passion that organisations simply are failing to tap into. What could we be doing to transform our workplaces so that they are as vibrant and dynamic as they can possibly be?

Because you have employees who outside of work are the captains of golf clubs, parent governors, sports coaches.

Some may be studying for degrees in subjects which they feel passionate about; or they already speak four or five languages fluently, and so have a strong desire to work in multiple countries.

They want to progress and really stretch themselves. But if you don’t offer a chance for them to share that hidden self and its enthusiasms, or even have the systems to recognise that they exist, how can they possible reach their full potential – and, more importantly, how can you enable them to channel that full potential to enable your organisation to thrive as they thrive with it?     


Unlocking the whole-self

All organisations are only as good as their people, skills and capabilities, and how these are organised to execute the business strategy day in and day out.

So maximising those skills and capabilities and creating a culture where they can thrive has got to be an essential part of ensuring that an organisation, and its people, has the capacity to meet whatever the future holds.

What we need are processes, systems and conditions which allow the whole person to thrive and thus unleash that massive hidden potential which is inside every one of those employees.

In short, we un-bottle that same energy which took a team and its followers to a World Cup final, and channel that energy towards the greater good.


Setting the Whole-self free

We’ll be enlarging and exploring some of these topics and themes in future articles.

For now, I’d ask you to consider this question: just how well do you know each and every one of your employees – their whole-selves as well as their career aspirations?

Because if you can’t answer that, if don’t have the culture which enables you to address those aspirations, and allow employees to share all of their unique goals, skills, enthusiasms and capabilities, you’re not really functioning at your fullest potential.

Truly embracing the whole-self model enables an organisation to create a culture which allows the requirements of that organisation to be met by enabling all employees to share their ‘whole-self’ and provides an autonomous process which links together both career and self-development.

When this is achieved, you in turn get the desired outcome of an inclusive, fully-engaged workforce all fully focused on the greater good of the organisation and its business strategy.  

It’s a big leap to get there, but as the Lionesses show, there is a massive untapped spirit which just doesn’t have the opportunity to manifest itself when we ‘go to work’ in the ordinary sense. If we can just create the culture to un-bottle even a tiny portion of that passion, then just imagine what we might start to create?

Michael Esau is global HR advisor at SAP

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