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The Inner Voice at Work

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David Paschane

Organizations are collections of people—individuals who have an inner work lives. The inner work life is a complex set of processes affecting how individuals understand themselves and interact with others. While most of the inner work life is hidden, a great deal is revealed through patterns in behavior, which ultimately affect work, performance, and the success of the organization. The following diagram simplifies the complexity of the inner work life.

The triangles represent a whole person with unique expressions, or touch points, where the individual’s work life behaviorally impacts others.

The top triangle represents Expertise, or how one presents value to the organization. It sets personal expectations for needs of control, esteem, and security; and, as the expertise is defined and accepted by others, these inner processes are reinforced. If the expertise is well aligned to the organization, control, esteem, and security are healthy, effective, and supportive of others in the organization.

The left triangle represents Commitment to others in the organization—it aligns one’s emotions, thinking, and stories to the collective goal. Commitment from the inner work life is an affinity with others that is repeated to one’s self, and helps sustain the other processes.

The triangle on the right is the inner work life that manifests as Integrity. It is the effort one makes to ensure that plans, actions, and messages lead to an outcome consistent with promises to the organization, explicit or not.

Taken together, the expertise justifies the individual being in the organization, the commitment aligns the individual’s dedication to the organization, and the integrity aligns the individual to fulfilling calls to action. The inner space is not labeled—it is aspects of the individual that are hidden from external interactions.

Meanwhile, evidence of expertise, commitment, and integrity can be observed and measured. They are touch points that affect the organization. The inner work life is foundational to performance leadership. It is not a one-time agreement at the time of hiring an employee; it is continually reinforced by structures in and about the organization.

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