The issue of human connection at work and in life takes center stage in the hit movie “Up In the Air.” The plot follows a business executive played by George Clooney who is continuously traveling to fire people. He views meaningful relationships as excess baggage and his primary aspiration is to become a 10 million mile traveler on American Airlines. A new, hot shot, young, female co-worker proposes virtual firing rather than in-person. Ironically, this same woman confronts Clooney’s character for his vacuous life style that lacks meaningful relationships. It’s a must see movie that is hilarious and tragic. It criticizes the values of today that idolize task excellence but give short shrift to the human need for relationships (or to achieve “relationship excellence” in organizations as I written in the past).
Artists always have their finger on the pulse of culture change. The favorable response to this movie is yet another sign to me that people feel the pain from diminished human connection in the workplace and in life. The evidence is overwhelming that connection = thriving and life, disconnection = dysfunction and death, for individuals, families, organizations and nations. It’s why I believe Connection Cultures are the next step in the evolution of organizations and civil societies. Do you agree? If so, why? If not, why? Do you have meaningful relationships in your life? If not, reach out to others this holiday season and begin the new year by developing more and deeper relationships in your life.
Michael Lee Stallard speaks, teaches and writes about leadership, employee engagement, productivity and innovation at leading organizations including Google, GE, NASA, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia. Most recently, Michael and his colleague Jason Pankau filmed a 90-minute program for Linkage’s Thought Leaders Series that will be released in January of 2010. Michael wrote the guest editorial for Talent Management magazine’s January 2010 edition and last month his article on how the force of connection boosts productivity and innovation was featured as the lead article in the UK’s Developing HR Strategy Journal. Click on these links to learn more about Michael and Jason in the media and their speaking engagements.