IBM and Scripps Research Institute to Collaborate on Pandemic Research; ”Project Check-mate” To Focus on Infectious Disease Containment. This is what makes me proud to be an IBMer. And absolutely, this is about playing a bigger game. For me, from inside of IBM, it feels like we are beginning to put some real meat around the IBM Value, Innovation that Matters. Believe it or not, we have a VP of Global Pandemic Strategy (Roland Harris III).

I know how important it is for me to feel like my work at IBM makes a difference. And it seems that I am not alone – we all want that, don’t we? Personal passion or full engagement at work is getting lots of attention right now in popular business books. There is research from Gallup , Institute for Employment Studies, and the Corporate Leadership Council and other sources that indicates that a very large percentage of the workforce is not fully engaged at work, and this is drastically impacting business results!

Many books have been written in the last 5 years that speak to igniting the passion in the workforce, getting the right people in the right jobs, leveraging their strengths, and increasing innovation and productivity. I think one of the best books is The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, not Time is the Key to High Performance. The book is based on years of experiencing in training worldclass athletes to be at their best, and has since been leveraged to build “corporate athletes”. Other books include Covey’s The Eighth Habit, and Marcus Buckingham’s Now Discover Your Strengths. And I stumbled on these books without even trying!

My job at IBM is to develop and enhance the leadership competencies of our sales leaders. Well, guess what? The highest level competency behaviors require a fully engaged employee. Think about it, if you’re not fully engaged at work, are you going to take strategic risks, embrace challenge (really!), and go out of your way to develop yourself and other people? Our most effective and inspiring leaders breathe passion and engagement, and they breed it in those around them, like an infection!

These are the leaders, fully engaged, at IBM, and all over the world, that will drive “Innovation that Matters to IBM, our clients and the world”. Because they know “what matters” to them, and they care enough to find out “what matters” to their clients. And they are bold enough to draw outside the lines of a typical seller, who will “meet a client’s needs”, or help a client “solve a business problem” (which are still important – of course!). They will stretch themselves and their clients to play bigger. To dare to think beyond driving profit, and cutting costs, to make an positive impact in their industry, and to drive the human race forward, intentionally. At our best, IBM is already working on curing cancer, stopping pandemics, improving healthcare, transitioning IBMer’s to teaching positions, and so much more, as is offered up in our current report on Innovation in Corporate Responsibility.

So let’s get personal here… How engaged are you at work on a scale from 1 – 10? How often do you notice yourself “disengaging” – from a conversation, a project, a conference call, a colleague? What brought you to your current job/career? How engaged are your peers, and other employees? How can you increase the passion, and the sense of fulfillment that you get from your work?

Maybe the most important question of all…. what matters to you? And how can you be doing more of that?!!