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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Sleep and meaning go hand in hand in business

Kirjoittanut: Anna Vikman - tiimistä Kajo.

Esseen tyyppi: / esseepistettä.

Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 5 minuuttia.

Work that has a meaning makes people want to work harder instead of stashing their energy and dedication. Meaning allows people to do more and to do it better. The sense that you can make a difference and that the work you do has a meaning can transform an entire organization. In my opinion, this is the core message in Robert E. Quinn’s and Anjan V. Thakor’s article “Creating a purpose-driven organization – How to get employees to bring their smarts and energy to work” published in Harvard Business Review. The writers have created a framework of eight steps for building a purpose-driven organization. The steps are:

  1. Envision an inspired workforce
  2. Discover the purpose
  3. Recognize the need for authenticity
  4. Turn the authentic message into a constant message
  5. Stimulate individual learning
  6. Turn midlevel managers into purpose-driven leaders
  7. Connect the people to the purpose
  8. Unleash the positive energizers


The framework helps the leaders to understand that the key to a successful business is not related to the amount of control the organization applies to its workers. In fact, it is the authentic higher purpose that helps the decision making process to reflect in creating a business strategy.


Individual learning and reflection


In my opinion it is important to stimulate individual learning like the step five recommends. The writers give an example telling, that when a leader gives a difficult challenge to an employee, he shows faith in that individual’s potential. The given task becomes an incubator for learning and development, and during this process the individual gains confidence and becomes more engaged to the organization and the higher purpose that guides it. By helping the employees comprehend the connection between the higher purpose and the learning process, leaders are able to strengthen it. This could be executed by requiring the employees to continuously reflect on this connection.


I can relate with the importance of reflection. Although it is important and interesting to learn new things, it is equally important to take time and reflect on them. In my opinion the possibility for learning is given to us every day. We can for example learn from reading books, going to lectures, working on a project, participating training sessions, discussing with a colleague. A lot of the time we reflect on these things for example by writing essays, project reports and feedback from the training sessions through the Motorola questions. If we go to even more personal level, reflection is a part of our personal lives as well. On a daily basis we can reflect on the energy through the amount of sleep collected, feelings and emotions, etc. Next I would like to focus on the importance of sleep in everything that we do.




The recommended amount of sleep is eight hours but it seems that for many it can be impossible to achieve. Through sleep we are able to strengthen and store memories, process emotional experiences, restock glucose (the fuel for the brain), and clear beta-amyloid out from the brain (the waste product that interrupts cognitive activity).

On the contrary, the lack of sleep and fatigue result in poor judgement, lack of self-control, and reduced creativity.


The article “Sleep Well, Lead Better – Managers need more rest. Here’s how to get it.” by Christopher M. Barnes suggests that sleep deprivation not only hurts individual performance but when managers lose sleep, it effects negatively their employees’ experiences and output too.

The article suggests that in order to transform this knowledge into sustained behaviour change, the first step is to help the leaders understand how damaging their fatigue can be.


Studies show that when leaders show up to work unrested, they are more likely to lose patience with employees, act abusively, and be seen as less charismatic. There is a great possibility that their subordinates will start to copy their leaders’ initiative and as they too start losing sleep, it might conclude unethical behaviour.


As the leaders learn to see that they need to put a stop to this vicious cycle, they become able to value better rest, performing their potential and bringing out the best in the people around them. The article offers some simple advice.




It is important to hold on to a consistent bedtime and wake-up schedule, avoid certain substances just before bedtime that affect the quality of sleep. Those substances are

  • caffeine (within seven hours)
  • alcohol (within three hours)
  • nicotine (within three to four hours)
  • exercising (but not right before bed)


The kind of exercising that helps you to relax, such as mindfulness meditation exercises can ease anxiety and make drifting off to sleep easier.

I have tried a meditation video from YouTube couple of times that my team mate recommended. I feel that it might have helped me with relaxing and falling asleep. So I probably will continue to experiment on meditation and its effects.


This next advice probably won’t come as a surprise but adjusting your smartphone behaviour is also very important. Research has been made about the blue light from screen effecting the natural production of melatonin.

So a simple advice is that you should stop looking at your devices at night.


The last advice is to get more rest by taking naps. There has been some research made indicating that just 20 minutes of dozing can result in significant restoration that enhances the quality of work. A quick nap can accelerate cognitive processing, reduce errors, and improve stamina for sustained attention to challenging tasks later in the day. Even a nap of eight minutes during the day can considerably improve memory.


I especially found the article about sleep very interesting. The examples about leaders effecting the whole work environment by not sleeping enough made me reflect on the lack of sleep in general. The fact that I often don’t sleep enough can be quite visible in my own behaviour. It effects my energy, emotions and sometimes even the decisions I make.


The advice given in the article was in my opinion quite basic but also very rational. I feel that the advice has already been given to me from other sources, so none of it came to me as totally new advice. But it doesn’t mean that the advice isn’t sufficient.

I struggle with sleep basically all the time and I understand how important all of this advice is. At the same time, I have to admit that I often catch myself browsing through social media on my iPhone just before bed. The reason why the advice can be difficult to follow is probably the fact the it is just so easy. I have begun to realize that I should try to sleep more and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Since I know it will not be an instant fix in my behaviour, I will at least try to find time for taking a nap for 20 minutes during day.




Harvard Business Review July-August 2018

“Creating a purpose-driven organization” – How to get employees to bring their smarts and energy to work

by Robert E. Quinn and Anjan V. Thakor


Harvard Business Review September-October 2018

“Sleep well, lead better” – Managers need more rest. Here’s how to get it.

by Christopher M. Barnes

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