How many of our organizations are making changes & believing that they will be executed as is expected? I work in the world of organizational & leadership culture; I know that many of our “Triple P” approaches to change of new policies, procedures & processes are not always executed or even long lasting. The question is: Is our current culture able to support these changes? How do we know? Actually the big question is: Do we even know what our organizational culture is? Would others agree? Do you know how effective it is or at worst is it causing undercurrents which challenge “the way we do things around here”? Is your idea of making these changes framed in a way which may not align with your current culture at all? Are you aware of the impact this will have on employee retention and or recruitment, new technology systems, staff reducing their attachment & sense of contribution & investment in their work, & staff relationships between each other & or leadership? Have you diagnosed the number of organizational misalignments you are slowly & quietly creating? Do you know how to measure your current culture in order to know how these changes can be made & ensure alignment with the desired culture for the future? Leaders, let’s start talking with staff to understand your culture!
Elon Musk stated “life cannot be just about solving one sad problem after another. There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity.”
Can you, with passion and confidence say that you wake up every morning and bring the smile to your face and you say I am making a difference that matters to others! If not, why not?
Leadership and the communication feedback loop: in the past few years I have facilitated quite a few “interventions”. This is where I mentor leadership teams to know how to communicate more effectively. This sounds so basic. However, I have discovered that many people do not know how to listen & hear each other. It is much more complex than answering the simple questions of what I need from you, to how will I know that you are clear about my intentions & not only what I say. It is interesting that one needs to go deeper to explore mental maps-how they see themselves, their status, and their sense of fairness,. Also how they feel uncertainties, ambiguities of their needs, and their unspoken desires and expectations. The lesson learned is that leaders spend little energy and desire to learn how to communicate with their direct reports and others. This is where the failure of effective leadership in organizations begins. Unfortunately, I see many more interventions coming in the many layers of the organizations that I am currently working to enhance and strengthen. This exists in teams too. This is very much an organizational culture phenomenon which needs to be addressed in leadership development. This requires our four intelligences of PQ, IQ, EQ, and SQ! What do you think?
I have a theory about the role that organizational life now plays in our current culture. We know that humans need to have a strong sense of belonging, a deep sense of membership, a connection with others, and a need for a clear meaningful purpose in life. Where have we connected strongly with others to achieve these human qualities: families were the dominant platform for these qualities to take root; associational life was another; faith-based organizations were the other. Work organizations may be the last connecting platform we may have. In many ways we know that first 3 forms of connection are being displaced by technology. We know that work life consumes most of our life time. I believe that our organizations may be replacing the others as the dominant connecting platforms. Here is the problem. Some of our organizations are generally not healthy for humans: they are increasingly more dysfunctional, increasingly more violent, increasingly more unhealthy and psychological unsafe, creating ill health, increasingly a place resulting in increasing suicides. Work is becoming a hazard for many employees at all levels. How do we change our culture to create places of belonging, connection and meaning? This may be the last place for this to happen for many! What do you think?
As an organizational leader, I think that it is important to consider a way to ensure that values enable organizational change and leadership transformation. In this way I believe that it is a focus on a values-based due diligence approach to strengthening your organizational culture, which in turn enhances your business/organizational practices. (Business ecosystem)
One way to apply this frame is by asking a range of questions. The questions are stated in the following context by using value enablers as ways to change and monitor leadership behavioural results. Here are a range of questions to consider:
- How does your organization articulate its espoused values, their definitions, the reasons why they are important, and in which context and which “lived experiences”;
- Are your espoused values applied to your decision-making processes, and how do you align your judgments based on these values which matter the most to you?
- How does your organizational governance policies and practices reflect your espoused values? How will you know?
- How do these espoused values fit within the core purpose of your organization, and its relationships with the external world influences?
- How do you ensure that all individuals within your organization, all stakeholders, shareholders and those impacted, have knowledge and the required experience to be able to live the espoused values of the organization? How do you know this, and most importantly how do you measure this as an impact guiding the organization, going forward?
- How do you take the espoused values and integrate/align these with your organizational core practices. For example, your performance management systems, marketing and communication, design and innovation practices, and overall decision-making in all organizational processes and systems?
- How do your espoused values form an important part of your accountability and transparency framework, including ensuring that the interests and perspectives of stakeholders are taken into account; Reporting on the results of a values-led due diligence approach and the metrics required are critical.
There is so much more to discuss and describe when one applies a values-based due diligence approach to guiding the changes required in many organizational practices. I believe that leadership has the opportunity to be transformed by focusing attention on their actions supporting the espoused values of their organization. (Measuring this is a critical part of the equation – understanding both the positive values and potentially limiting ones as they are lived in the context of organizational life)
I spend much of my consulting & coaching work with a range of clients, CEO’s, managers, & line staff. Above all this is the critical component in sustaining working relationships. It is about the quality of relationships & the nature of the trust practiced that assist organizational leadership to focus on everyone thriving. Is this true for your organization? I think this quote from “Trust is the Lubricant of Organizational Life” reflects this idea. “I would choose to trust people. I would give the benefit of the doubt and I would organize on the assumption of that, for the most part, people inside the company would be trusted”. The author continues to state what I believe is core for leaders to believe & practice “Trusting people and looking after their personal and professional welfare went against the prevailing management grain which believed in keeping employees at an arm’s length”. How do you as a leader see and believe trust must be lived as a “felt experience” in your organizational culture? Do you agree that your core assumption in all of your relationships is that trust is equally lived within your relationships with your employees, your clients and your investors or funders? Is there a difference in living through trust with these groups?
Leaders and relationship coordination: I am more engaged in asking the questions of why is it that as leaders we focus more attention on the “visibles” of organizational performance than the “Invisibles” of people and their need to be successful? Why haven’t we connected the dots of the Invisibles to the value of their loyalty to the organization? Why do we not spend the energy and our leadership forethought to create a positive, safe and healthy “psychohygienic” environment? Why do we not create strategies and tactics to bundle mutually reinforcing organizational practices that encourage spectacular internal relationships?
These relationships create healthy, safe and productive and meaningful workspaces. I think that organizational leaders in these times of volatility, chaos, uncertainty, and ambiguity have no other choice. Workplace meaning and purpose through relationship building increases organizational success. The very last two questions to consider are: What are your leadership blindspots which blind, blur, and create rationalizations which cause one to not pay attention to the true nature of your work relationships? What are your experiences in creating healthy work relationships?
Let’s move forward from organizational toxicity- I have had many conversations with leaders, staff and other change consultants and coaches and the same question reappears…how does a leader who is aware of the pain created by their decisions support their staff and clients? This is a complex question. Simply stated there are well respected senior staff in organizations who by default are the toxic handlers(TH). There are organizational culture processes to support these TH, and I work to establish those support structures. However, the most important aspect of this action still relies on the organizational leaders to focus and understand their primary responsibilities: strong, honest, and resilient relationships with staff, clients and funders/investors
This is the leadership that my practice is aiming to support and develop. I have been asked many times, how do I see my coaching & consulting practice regarding supporting the developing team or organizational leader?
In James MacGregor’s book “Leadership”, he describes leaders as either transactional or transformative. He states: The relations of most leaders and followers are transactional, leaders approach followers with an eye to exchanging one thing for another. Transforming leadership, while more complex is more potent. The transforming leader recognizes & exploits an existing need or demand of the potential follower. But, beyond that, the transforming leader looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower. (Support organizations to elevate their staff’s core values being lived) The result of transforming leadership is a relationship of mutual stimulation & elevation that converts followers into leaders and may (this is critical for current organizational life) convert leaders into moral agents.
This is my way to seek to develop leaders through my organizational consulting and coaching in order to grow organizational culture which is healthy, safe and purposeful for all.
1. How do you balance short-term and transactional thinking with long-term and transformative thinking and acting?
2. How do you now focus on creating the future of the organization when you will be long gone? Do you really care about this at all?
3. How do you know, through your thinking and acting, the value you place on your relationships with employees, clients or customers, and investors or funders? Is there an equal focus on all three or is one more important to you? Why?
4. How do you know that your organizational culture, which you have contributed to, is healthy and a flourishing one? Do others see this in the same way?
5. Ultimately, is your organizational culture known by others as a psychologically healthy and safe one for everyone in your organization and or for others who are influenced by the results of your organization’s performance?
I would be quite interested in knowing how leaders respond to these questions as they think about what they need to do differently in 2020.
What do you think? Each one of these questions is aligned with a leadership training session.