Communication concepts in the leader-follower relationship are important because they provide a clear presentation of some helpful techniques about how individuals can evaluate their own communication abilities. Most importantly, one can improve his or her own communication skills by adhering to developing and earning trust by acting, thinking, and decision making in the right manner, learning how to gather information, being open to dialogues, developing effective skills, and being able to read between the lines. These are essential, fundamental tools that are necessary in global environments and cross-cultural communication, because of the roles they help leaders develop as they are striving to become more successful as they embark on a journey of effective leadership.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION?
In order to improve communication with respect to the leader-follower relationship, one should observe the following prerequisites:
i. Maintaining trust: One should be aware that people are likely to forgive many things where trust exists as opposed to where there is no trust. In addition, great leaders also demonstrate the need to get personal as far as communication is concerned. The essence of getting personal is to help an individual be truthful as much as he or she can. Getting specific is another rule of thumb if one is to improve his or her communication because it removes ambiguity (Myatt, 2012). This calls for the need for one to learn to communicate with clarity based on simplicity and conciseness.
ii. Learning techniques to gather information: Learning how to gather information while transferring ideas, aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading the vision is another significant aspect to improving one’s communication. An individual can improve his or her communication by developing a ‘servant’s heart’ through focusing on contributing to the overall communication matter than just receiving. It is apparent that one is able to improve his or her communication when he or she seeks to contribute to the overall communication subject more than just receiving information from other parties. In addition to this, one has to have an open mind in order to improve his or her communication. An inflexible mind is a toxic factor of new opportunities for leaders and thus a leader-follower relationship must ensure that individuals are open to dissenting and opposing positions (Myatt, 2012). An individual who wants to improve his or her communication must also be open to new ideas and dialogue to demonstrate the willingness to engage in a discussion with an open mind. The foundation of morality is through empathetic engagement in all aspects while influencing followers towards the attainment of common goals.
iii. Developing effective listening skills: Listening is very important in the process of improving communication since through active listening actual understanding of what has been said is achieved by leaders and their followers. Listening also plays a vital role in ensuring that the leader gives effective and the right feedback in response to what has been heard and understood. Besides, listening ensures that the leader is put in the mindset of serving his or her followers. Thus, the author of this popular press magazine is convinced that developing effective listening skills is an important technique for helping an individual to improve his or her communication (Myatt, 2012). In addition to effective listening, empathy is another fundamental communication technique in the leader-follower relationship. Effective leaders must demonstrate that they care about their followers by avoiding prideful arrogance and ego. Also, they must demonstrate emotional intelligence by being in a position to diagnose, understand, and manage emotional cues based on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skill. This should be coupled with the ability to possess a personal understanding which includes the ability to deal with emotions, general performance, as well as the ability to demonstrate self-control, trustworthiness, adaptability and ability to lead others (Patterson et al., 2007). Hence, an individual can improve his or her communication by taking responsibility and accountability as a virtue that connects ethics and integrity.
iv. Reading between the lines: The ability to read between the lines is another essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship. This allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers. Ultimately, this ensures they become aware of the implications of their ideas, opinions, and thoughts to their followers. As such, an individual can evaluate his or her communication by determining whether he or she reflects upon their communication content before conveying it to their followers. An individual must be reflective of their thoughts and ideas in order to challenge assumptions (Lokhorst, 2016). This is an imperative initiative since it allows leaders to think strategically by conducting an evaluation of their business model, organizational and staff structure, and customer base.
THE ROLE OF A LEADER IN GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTS AND CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
All these communication strategies are essential in global environments and cross-cultural communication in the following ways:
First, effective communication entails the ability to communicate across cultures through appropriate ethical language while respecting others. Ethical concerns also contribute to the challenge of leadership in global working environments. Managers are expected to possess the ability to communicate effectively across cultures through using appropriate ethical language. This should be accompanied with respecting viewpoints of people from different cultural groups in the workplace. The shifting scope of businesses’ operation from local and regional contexts to increasingly global contexts requires successful leaders to possess attributes such as cultural flexibility, emotional intelligence and economic competence, collaboration and control, and effective control (Myatt, 2012).
Employing ethical principles in global working environments also includes the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment, navigating cultural, linguistic, and economic differences, operating in an insightful manner at a personal level, and providing honest information to all stakeholders in the leadership context. This, therefore, makes the leader communication styles imperative.
These communication strategies also enhance co-existence and positive relationships. This is by ensuring that leaders develop emotional intelligence and cultural flexibility, as well as fostering an environment that motivates followers by providing incentives and other necessities to achieve a desired goal (Lokhorst, 2016). The global working environments require the practice of embracing multiplicity or a mixture of individuals from a wide range of cultures, ethnic groups, religions, genders, and sexual orientations among others. Leaders are also expected to meet technological, economic conditions, labor conditions, and social and cultural standards. This is through understanding ethical concerns, customer needs and motivations, information, and choice available to the workforce, addressing globalization, and corporate governance concerns (Patterson et al., 2007). Those who want to improve their communication with respect to leader-follower relationship need to maintain continuous leadership skill development. This is vital in global working environments and cross-cultural communication.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
The communication strategies discussed provide invaluable lessons about leadership with respect to leader-follower communication relationships. To begin with, the changing nature of business operations from local to global environments has led to the evolution of the concept of leadership. The speed of change in all spheres of life demands an entirely different leader to lead in global environments and cross-cultural communication contexts. The leader must strive to adapt rapidly to change and be engaging in constant skill development to lead others to the desired direction. In all these, cultural flexibility is a fundamental leadership competency in global environments. It entails the need for one to demonstrate the ability to be willing to submit to another cultural way of life without feeling anxious or alien-like feelings. In the leader-follower relationship, emotional intelligence is one of the communication imperatives. One must, therefore, demonstrate a deeper understanding of their emotions, weaknesses, strengths, drives, and reactions to problems to know how to handle themselves in different situations. This is particularly important when interacting with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Of ultimate importance in improving communication with regard to the leader-follower relationship is the ability to read between the lines. This is an essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship because it allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers. This is the most important stage for if the leader does not get it right here it will not carry over well to the followers.
How you start a project could very well be how you end one.
In essence, the beginning is the end.
Lokhorst, J. (2016). The secret to successful organizational change. Outcomes Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.christianleadershipalliance.org/about
Myatt, M. (2012). 10 communication secrets of great leaders. Forbes. Retrieved January 11, 2017, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/04/04/10-communication-secrets-of-great-leaders/3/#1be23a634c91
Patterson, K., Dannhauser, Z., & Stone, A. G. (2007). From Noble to Global: The Attributes of Global Leadership. Servant Leadership Research Roundtable. Retrieved from https://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/sl_proceedings/2007/patterson_dannhauser_stone.pdf
Communication concepts in the leader-follower relationship are important because they provide a clear presentation of some helpful techniques about how individuals can evaluate their own communication abilities. Most importantly, one can improve his or her own communication skills by adhering to developing and earning trust by acting, thinking, and decision making in the right manner, learningPriscilla J. DuBose Articles
Let me be so bold as to say that you will never find or be the perfect leader. To be human is to make mistakes. But I hope we all strive to continuously improve our intrapersonal, interpersonal, technical, and managerial skills. This inevitably leads to a happier and correspondingly more productive workforce. The aim I believe is to transition from being a boss (driving the employees and inspiring fear) to a leader (coaching the employees and inspiring enthusiasm).
I have had the pleasure of reporting to a wide range of different leader personality types and behaviors. From experiencing an uncommunicative but skilled boss (let's call him Mr. A) who operated in a clique of yes men (and maybe he still does) to a leader (Dr. B) who had less technical knowledge but whose door was always open for communication of any of my concerns. I much preferred the latter. Permit me to delve further into my personal experiences with Mr. A and Dr. B.
Mr. A rose to stardom in his organization very quickly. He was technically adept and his reputation was his performance on the job, especially with regards to writing reports. Therefore Mr. A was promoted very quickly through the ranks and inevitably attained supervisory responsibilities. It was around this time that, myself, a fledging engineer joined this organization and fell under Mr. A's responsibility. But I was in disagreement with Mr. A's attitude towards me. He often insulted me in the presence of other personnel and was never willing to share his knowledge. He bad-mouthed the performance of others, even those under his supervision. Those who agreed with Mr. A's views were absorbed into his clique. I became one of those who were left to fend for myself and learn the engineering skills I needed on my own. I subsequently left the organization, mainly because of Mr. A.
As a mechanical engineering researcher later on in life, I was supervised by Dr. B. For any researcher performing doctoral studies, there comes a transition point where the knowledge of the researcher may exceed that of the supervisor in a particular research area. For some it comes after 2 years of study, for others never. For me, it occurred after 6 months of study. This placed a lot of onus on me to ensure that I was on the right track in my studies. There were times when I felt the doctoral study was directionless. However, I would not have traded that experience for anything else in the world. Mainly because of the outstanding leadership qualities of Dr. B. He catered to my administrative and psychological needs. He was there to offer his support when I encountered personal obstacles at the university. There was nothing that I couldn't talk to Dr. B about. Dr. B always made it a point to inquire about the well-being of my family and wife. I subsequently graduated from the university in a period of time that was 1 year earlier than the average time taken for a doctoral researcher in that region.
The perfect leader may be in the eyes of the beholder. To the ones in Mr. A's clique, he was probably the perfect leader. I have never spoken to Mr. A since but those who presently work under him report of his dictatorial ways. I have heard stories of him personally monitoring, on a daily basis, the time his employees enter and leave the compound. I guess he has decided to further improve his skills into being an excellent spy. I regularly maintain contact with Dr. B, and we intend to collaborate in the future on research activities. Dr. B still inquires on the well-being of myself and family.
I am not exempt from blame in the scenarios I have described, especially with regards to interactions with Mr. A. I was often rude to him and this was in retaliation to his attitude. Perhaps I should have been more tolerant of his ways and mannerisms. By doing this, I would have performed better in my job then. But I thank him because I strive on a daily basis to not be like him. For if I never experienced his type I would not know how it feels, for example, to be ridiculed as an employee in the presence of others. I also need to consider Mr. A's turmoil as he was put into a position of supervision at an early stage of his career. I don't know how this can affect a person's psyche and the added expectations that are placed on one by his organization.
I do know that I have and will continue to make mistakes as I try to be a leader. I basically strive to do the things that I deemed as positive from Dr. B and avoid doing what was negative from the experiences with Mr. A. My personal experiences have confirmed that leaders are not specific to developed or developing nations or the degree of education they have attained.
Leaders are found throughout the spectrum of companies, organizations and all walks of life. Is it the case that leaders are born, do they emerge over time, or is there a bit of both? I don't know. However, it is often the power hungry that rise to the organizational/corporate top quickly. They are the ones that lack the skills required to keep a group or workforce happy. And I strongly believe that an employee's happiness is directly related to his/her productivity.
About the author:
Dr. Chris Maharaj is the Assistant Professor of Design and Manufacturing at the The University of Trinidad & Tobago, O'Meara Campus, Trinidad. Chris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Let me be so bold as to say that you will never find or be the perfect leader. To be human is to make mistakes. But I hope we all strive to continuously improve our intrapersonal, interpersonal, technical, and managerial skills. This inevitably leads to a happier and correspondingly more productive workforce. The aim I believe is to transition from being a boss (driving the employees and inspirDr. Chris Maharaj Articles
In just about any book on management or leadership and you will eventually come across the term ecosystems. It may not sound very exciting but is essential in understanding the complexity of modern organizations! The concept of ecosystems in an organization stems from a biological model. In nature, an ecological community coexists together within its environment. Many things can affect the ecosystem. For example, conflicts between species can influence an ecosystem. The introduction of an outside species can alter or change an ecosystem. Moore uses this analogy to define a business ecosystem as "an economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals." This is in concert with an understanding of general systems theory. The bottom line is that otherorganizations and institutions within our society do influence today's businesses and their environment. Rapid changes in science, technology, knowledge and changing social norms compound these influences.
Galagan defines a business ecosystem as a "system in which companies work cooperatively or competitively to support new products, satisfy customers, and create the next round of innovation in key market segments." I believe the five competitive forces as presented by Michael Porter help to define at least part of an ecosystem we face in the business community. These forces shape and influence competition within most industries. They are:
1) The risk of new entry by potential competitors
2) The degree of rivalry among established companies
3) The bargaining power of the buyers
4) The bargaining power of the suppliers
5) The threat of substitute products
These many competitive influences make the role of leadership more complex and challenging. It is important to understand the linkage between an organization as an ecosystem and leadership strategy. I will discuss what I believe are major linkage qualities.
A leader attempts to motivate other workers into action toward a goal or various goals. Leaders can do this by providing vision, and explaining how the purpose of each activity is designed to dovetail into the larger picture of an overall strategy. In other words, their role in the organization is important and valued by the entire organization. Providing direction by conveying a clear vision of what is necessary to get a task completed and how to proceed in that direction is vital. Acquiring and using your analytical skills is essential since an ecosystem can change quickly. Culture also plays a major role in the linkage between ecosystems and leadership strategy. An organizations goals and values will be under constant attack both internally and externally. Its culture must be cohesive to withstand negative pressures and influences from many directions. Leadership strategy must include the objective of gaining and sustaining the active support of the organization's people and resources.
Complementing sound internal analysis is the creation of an effective feedback loop structure. You need to know how decisions and actions are affecting various parts of the organization. A superior feedback system is essential to success. In an open system, the external environment intermingles with the internal environment. Jennings and Zandbergen comment that a system functions properly "when a variety of negative and positive feedback loops are in place." However, they admit a problem exists for the leader. The problem is that these "effects through feedback may take a long time or be indirect." In other words, the effects may take place in only one area of the ecosystem before they are felt elsewhere. As Hill & Jones emphasize, the feedback loop should indicate to leaders that strategic planning is an ongoing process. The execution of a strategy must be monitored to effectively gauge if activities and objectives are being achieved. Furthermore, Hill & Jones add that as the feedback loop passes back to the corporate level it "should be fed into the next round of strategy formulation and implementation." Rummler contends that organizational outputsare produced through processes. Using the analogy of an "x-ray", he stresses that critical performance variables include "job responsibilities and standards, job design, feedback, rewards and training."
Good leaders must provide motivation by rallying the willingness of subordinates to work toward the corporate goals and objectives. Rewards rather than punishments should almost always be used to achieve this within the organization. Developing a mutual trust and respect for each other, including the organizations shared values, enhances this motivating principle. Another linkage is both honesty and openness in communication. Many leaders will find that sustaining continued effectiveness might be very difficult. Many subordinates may have been successful for many years, almost to the point of being taken for granted. A sudden change in the ecosystem may necessitate a change in strategy and this may cause confusion or discouragement among formerly contented workers. Understanding an ecosystem teaches us that we must continually grow, adapt, change, and become stronger to survive. Dealing with rapid change is difficult. Nevertheless, we must never be satisfied with our current level of achievement. Often a new leaders first job is to create an integratedattitude that fosters cooperation, harmony and effective results among the stakeholders.
I believe strategic planning is essential for success in any modern organization. Here are some of the reasons why. Strategic planning provides a vision of the organizations goals and mission. It analyzes the external environment to identify threats and opportunities for the organization. The strategic planning process helps the organization to select strategies to build on its own strengths, and correct or minimize its weaknesses. This allows the organization to take advantage of external opportunities and to counter external threats. This process can assist the organization in creating a strategy implementation process that designs appropriate structures and control systems to put its chosenstrategy into action. If we dont chose and implement our own strategy, we will become a victim of someone elses!
In contrast, the lack of strategic planning places the organization's future at risk for failure. It often times will lack a clear delineation of its goals and mission. It is not prepared for external threats to the organization and is not often prepared to take advantage of opportunities. It does not often recognize its own strengths and weaknesses and is not in a position to select strategies to deal with these important internal matters. The end result of no real organizational strategy or a misguided strategy will most likely lead to failure. In essence, the lack of a leadership strategy places the organization in the role of a victim in a changing ecosystem. Using an analogy from nature, who wins when a slow moving caterpillar walks into the path of a preying mantis?
Another important linkage is the example of ethics demonstrated by the leadership of an organization. Hill & Jones place the importance of values in a succinct manner. "The values of a company state how managers within the company intend to conduct themselves, how they intend to do business, and what kind of a business they want to build." This is true for both modern business and the military. Business decisions do have an ethical component that can effect strategy! Hill & Jones continue by stating that "the purpose of business ethics is not so much to teach the difference between right and wrong as it is to give people the tools for dealing with moral complexity, tools that they can use to identify and think through the moral implications of strategic decisions". More than ever, in a rapidly evolving ecosystem, leaders must deal with complex moral decisions that do have an impact on the organization's strategy.
Regarding ethics, a leadership strategy should attempt to establish a climate that emphasizes the importance of ethics. Creation of this climate should include three steps. First, top managers or officers must use their leadership role to incorporate an ethical dimension into the values they want to stress. Secondly, for a business, these ethical values should be incorporated in the company's mission statement. For the modern military, it is incorporated in a code of conduct. Third, these ethical values must be endorsed and respected. A sound leadership strategy should include incentivesystems that highlight the importance of respecting and acting upon ethical values in strategic decision-making.
The linkage between an organization as an ecosystem and an effective leadership strategy is a process. A leader can shape an organizations culture in many ways. The leaders personal influence can be demonstrated as part of a strategic leadership team and modeled individually. This influence can occur primarily through a combination of socialization tactics. These can include unique myths, stories, rites, ceremonies, and organizational rewards. Leadership strategy should encourage an adaptive culture that allows for innovation and rewards initiative for lower and middle-level managers. This can result in a greater ability to exploit new opportunities. A leader also understands that excellent organizations create an incentive system that motivates and reinforces desired behaviors. Rewards for individuals may include piecework plans, commission systems, bonus plans and promotion. Rewards for groupsmay include a group-based bonus system, profit sharing system, employee stock option plan and organizational bonus systems. By the way, dont forget the most basic need all of us need in the workplace. It is respect, dignity and appreciation for a job well done!
A good leadership strategy should make an investment in the business to become a learning organization. Learning organizations are those that are structured to learn rapidly and use additional knowledge to become even more effective. In this environment the desire to learn is encouraged and proper resources are allocated for training and education. The values of learning are embedded into the culture. A leader's strategy can encourage a culture that accepts reasonable risk taking by cultivating values that tell subordinates they should perform their jobs in creative and innovative ways. Leadership can have a powerful impact on an organizations culture. John Masters, the President of Canadian Hunter has stated, Leadership committed to excellence, the proposition of team work, team support by management and values are essential to team management.
In conclusion, the effective linkage of an ecosystem and leadership can be difficult. A leader must recognize there are numerous environmental influences and attempt to control them. The leader must gain an expansive knowledge of human psychological, social and physiological needs. The leader must understand the broad spectrum of organizational development. This is a lot to require from any one individual or small group of individuals! For this reason, I believe this linkage should be a sharedleadership approach tapping into the skills and talents of many.
About the Author:
Frederick Weiss has over 20 years of management experience including 14 years at an executive level. Mr. Weiss is the Vice President of Finance & Administration at Vita-Mix Corporation, a privately owned manufacturing company. He has been a driving force in changing the culture of Vita-Mix from a small-family-leadership style to a professionally managed company during its growth from $5 million to over $60 million.
Galagan, P. (1997) Strategic planning is back. Training and Development, Vol. 51, 04-01-1997
Hartwick Classic Leadership Cases (1993). Strange Days in the Oil Patch.
Hartwick Humanities in Management Institute, pp. 23-24
Hill, C. & Jones, G. (1998). Strategic Management. (4th Ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Jennings, P., & Zandbergen, P. (1995) Ecologically sustainable organizations: an institutional approach. Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20, 10-01-1995, pp. 1015.
Leadership In Organizations. (1988). Gordon City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, Inc.
Moore, J. (1996) The Death of Competition. (1st Ed.) NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
Porter, M. (1998) Competitive Strategy. NY: The Free Press
Rummler, G. (1996) Redesigning the organization and making it work. CMA Magazine, Vol. 70, 06-01-1996, pp. 29
Taylor, R. & Rosenbach, W. (1994). Military Leadership. (3rd Ed.) Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
In just about any book on management or leadership and you will eventually come across the term ecosystems. It may not sound very exciting but is essential in understanding the complexity of modern organizations! The concept of ecosystems in an organization stems from a biological model. In nature, an ecological community coexists together within its environment.Weiss, Fred Articles Tips
Leaders tend to invest a tremendous amount of time, money and energy in long-range initiatives and various organizational designs to achieve a competitive edge. However, no sooner than these initiatives hit the market, they became almost obsolete. Often, it appears that current organizational designs are too complex to blend in with unforeseen markets trends or too weak to quickly and effectively adapt to ongoing technological advances. While constructing relevant organizational designs may be difficult and time-consuming at best, it is hard to imagine how companies settle for the typical, ad hoc organizational structures that have no stake in assisting the company in its ability to reinvent itself when the need arises; or take advantage of emerging opportunities.
This paper describes the importance of organizational design and how 21st century organizations can use organizational design to increase their competitive advantage. It discusses the challenges and requirements of effective organizational design and describes three areas of considerations as the impetus for future reconfiguration efforts. These areas of emphasis include: 1) Investment in leadership knowledge and the knowledge worker; 2) Elimination of organizational boundaries; and 3) Implementation of strategic initiatives.
Definition of Organizational Design
According to Dumais (2011), organizational design is not simply about structure and organization charts. It is also not about balance sheets. The true essence of organizational design -as a process- rests in the relationships and interconnectivity between people, work, formal structures, informal practices, and cultural behaviors, both internally and externally. Moreover, it is about the way in which an organization manages and coordinates its human, administrative and operational resources to benefit from unique capabilities over the long-term. Deborah Jenks (2007) surmises that in the 21st century, the role of organization design has been redefined because organizations can no longer adequately compete using traditional structures. Jenks reminds us that the world has become global and complex, and organizations must not only accommodate that complexity, but become authors of it to remain competitive.
Organizational design is a fluid process oriented toward achieving results based on current and future environmental, economic and global influences. Gilmore (2007) posits that organizations exist to realize the purpose of achieving a competitive advantage. Daft (2007) agrees that it is this purpose and direction that helps shape how the organization is designed and managed. To wit, executives must appreciate their role in organizational design “because they see their decisions as high-leveraged, and see effective organizational design as a source of notable improvement in a world of temporary advantage.” Thus, organizational design, at its core and fundamental base of assumption, refers to the principles and tools leaders use to develop business entities in a more superior manner than their competitors.
Requirements of Effective Organizational Design
In today’s global and competitive digital age, research suggests that there is a tremendous need for organizations to work faster and achieve more with much less. During the 20th century, most organizations gained their business structure from an industrial system that viewed profits as the only bottom line indicator. Therefore, organizations approached their business development from a hierarchical, authoritative, vertically integrated alignment. Of course, this structure had its place and purpose. However, as technological advances expanded, the demand for a more agile, flexible organization design leaped into the discussion and created the need for 21st century organizations to consider a broader perspective. The challenge, then, became the requirement for organizations to “respond effectively and rapidly to customer demands with the ability to achieve a unique competitive advantage (Gailbraith, 2002). These challenges take into account an organizational framework, which Galbraith refers to as a “series of design policies controlled by management and influenced by employee behavior.”
Gailbraith calls this framework the ‘Star Model.’ The Star Model includes five categories of emphasis: strategy, structure, processes, rewards, and people. But at the heart of this strategy is leadership. Galbraith believes leadership must develop the strategy, which then propels the organization in a winning direction. He also believes that through effective leadership, power and authority will be properly placed and exercised; and excellent processes and procedures will be implemented to correctly direct the flow of resources and information. Furthermore, he notes that strong reward systems invigorate people to perform. Meanwhile, human resource policies are developed to address employees’ skills and mindset. If realized, all of these efforts underpin an organizational design that embodies the responsibility of leaders who make good choices and sound decisions that have a profound and positive impact on the organization’s competitive advantage. In spite of great leadership, however, inherent challenges will continue to abound and, if not properly checked, can adversely affect the complexities of change within the organizational structure. The next section discusses what some of these challenges are and how they can be addressed.
Inherent Challenges of Organizational Design
During the 20th century, organizational designs were generally based on the “keep it simple” philosophy. The primary structure was often defined by a Chief Executive Officer and a number of hierarchal Vice Presidents who served as department heads or business unit leaders. The guiding principle was the efficiency of the organization which often utilized information technology systems to reengineer business processes and spur growth of the bottom line. Employees were required to navigate around production systems, processes, and changing business needs. “What is the profit margin?” was the all encompassing question. Yet, Handy (1990) describes a current period where the changes being experienced by organizations and individuals in the 21st century are different than those experienced in the past.
Handy (1990) asserts this difference is a phenomenon he terms “discontinuous change.” He concludes that effective organizations work differently when they are indeed interested in sustained growth. In other words, 21st century organizations embody certain business structures that not only look different, but exemplify different working habits, different age profiles, and different traditions of authority. This requires a certain organizational design which supports an environment of flexibility and quick self-adjustments aimed at an esteemed sense of purpose. Bryan and Joyce (2005) note that trying to run a 21st-century company with 20th century organizational models puts a significant burden on how well a company performs. They surmise that current organizational designs hamper modern corporations with hard-to-manage [decentralization], thick silo walls, confusing matrix structures, e-mail overload, and “undoable” jobs. Yet, this organizational dilemma offers opportunities for design change and structural reinvention that has the potential to generate positive outcomes in the 21st century.
Considerations for Organizational Design in the 21st Century
If done correctly, effective organizational design provides the framework for developing a company’s capabilities. At every level, the design helps shape not only the company’s profits but its people and their willingness and ability to improve their performance over the long term - utilizing their inherent knowledge, experience and expertise. I believe companies can significantly reduce the challenges of organizational interactions and improve the overall quality of their internal collaboration by implementing three interrelated design principles: 1) Investment in leadership knowledge and the knowledge worker, 2) Elimination of organizational boundaries; and 3) Increasing the organization’s strategic initiatives.
a. Investment in Leadership Knowledge and the Knowledge Worker
David Nadler and Michael Tushman (1997) assert that the only real sustainable source of competitive advantage left in our volatile environment is in the organizational architecture (design) – the way in which an organization structures and coordinates its people and process in order to maximize its unique capabilities over the long-term. The time to make changes is before they are needed. As a result, successful organizations create flexible architecture that can accommodate constant change. Flexible architectures and designs that leverage competitive strengths will remain the ultimate competitive advantage deep into the 21 century.
Jim Murray states that in the 21st century, the very nature, speed and complexity of change will alter the way organizations address their internal functions as well as their global reach. If that is indeed the case, then the nature of leadership also requires reconsideration. What made the leaders of yesterday will not make the leaders of tomorrow. Murray notes that in the past, the leader was a “doer.” Yet, the leader in the 21st century must be a “planner,” not only charting the organization’s strategic direction, but recognizing and leveraging the organization’s capabilities; while further creating, harnessing and developing intellectual capital. Rather than simply deploying organizational assets, the 21st century leader focuses on increasing the organization’s capacity to achieve greatness through agility and resiliency.
Additionally, knowledge leaders in the 21st century must understand how to share information and build social networks rather than rely on stale hierarchies or silos to generate a competitive edge. They must be able to distinguish between the costs of paying people from the value of investing in them. They must cultivate and expand their expertise in the context of human strategy; that is, they inspire smart people to work smarter by making tacit knowledge more explicit, and understanding how to train people, as well as embracing the limits to training (Murray). In the 21st century, knowledge leaders are expected to not only be good at contributing direct and distinct knowledge to the organization, but also for developing the knowledge talent of others. Hence, the knowledge worker is a vital partner in organizational design for the 21st century.
Bryan and Joyce (2005) cite Peter Drucker as coining the phrase "knowledge worker" to describe a new class of employees whose basic means of production is no longer capital, land or labor, but the productivity of knowledge. Drucker’s vision is of professional employees who are knowledge generators rather than commodity or capital generators. He puts forth the notion that these intellectually skilled and educationally talented workers are the innovators of new business ideas, making it possible for companies to deal with today’s rapidly changing and uncertain business conditions; thereby producing and managing the intangible assets that are the primary way companies create value (Bryan and Joyce, 2005).
1) Elimination of Organizational Boundaries
The 21st century business is in the midst of a social and economic revolution, shifting from rigid to permeable structures, while creating something new: the boundaryless organization. Boundaries are necessary to prevent chaos, yet it is imperative that they allow greater flexibility and fluidity of movement between people, processes, and production (Askenas, Ron, Ulrich, Dave, Jick, Todd and Kerr, Steve, 2002). In fact, there are a number of studies that suggest the purpose of leadership in the 21st century is not about making money, but about the process of making sure the right people are talking to one another about the right things and have enough resources and flexibility to do what needs to be done. This means that unproductive designs are discarded and vertical structures that prohibit professionals from working horizontally across the whole of the organization are ignored. The elimination of organizational boundaries make it easier for workers to exchange knowledge and collaborate with other professionals both internally and externally. The new organizational design of the 21st century recognizes the value of people and their capacity to generate ideas across organizational boundaries.
Nadler and Tushman (1997) make a very succinct point about organizational design and capacity for workers to interconnect, especially outside of the proverbial company walls. They note that the role of organizational design in contemporary 21st century corporations is to streamline and simplify vertical and linear structures. Traditional lines of supervision, they suggest, tend to create barriers, which block the willing transfer of knowledge and hinder important bilateral relationships. Thus, they conclude that the organizations of the 21st century do not resemble organizations with vertical and linear constraints. Rather, their appearance is of fluid and dynamic groups similar to cross-functional work teams. Each group has an assigned membership; but they also have the ability to draw temporary members into the group for special projects and share their resources with other groups in an environment of fluidity and flexibility. Having the ability to interact and overlap across operational lines results in leaner, less vertically and linearly oriented designs.
2) Increase Efforts in Strategic Initiatives
One definition of strategy initiative includes a process whereby an organization takes various actions to gain and maintain a competitive advantage. To this end, leaders invest enormous energy in understanding their current organizational designs and engaging in long-range planning processes to adapt, evolve and adjust. That being said, Bryan and Joyce (2007), contend that most leaders overlook a golden opportunity to create a durable competitive advantage and generate high returns for less money and with less risk by failing to make organizational design the heart of their corporate strategy.
At the corporate level, this puts forth the notion that companies must manage their short and long-term earning in a way that integrates their spending on strategic initiatives within the overall budget, so they need to adopt a systematic, effective approach of making the necessary trade-offs. This is what Bryan and Joyce calls “dynamic management.” Dynamic management helps organizations in the areas of decision-making protocols, rolling budgets, and management procedures. These opportunities make it possible for companies to manage the portfolio of strategic initiatives as part of an integrated business approach. (Bryan and Joyce, 2005).
In the last century, we witnessed national monolithic organizations choosing a strategy of “going global.” Organizations grappled with how to morph hierarchical and American headquarters –centric structures-- into organizations that worked effectively across borders and with empowered workforces (Jenks, 2007). And, while de-centralization, diversity, and teams became local and global issues, the old success factors of size, role clarity, specialization, and control have been replaced in the new paradigm with speed, flexibility, integration, and innovation (Jenks, 2007). What does this mean for organizational design in the 21st century? Simply put, a new organizational model for today's big corporations will not emerge spontaneously from the obsolete legacy structures of the industrial age. Rather, companies must design new models from a holistic point of view; using new principles that take into account the way employees behave and the way professionals view and embrace value and culture. Big companies that follow these principles will get more organizational mileage - at less cost - from the managers and the professionals they employ and lean on for vision and execution. In the process, they will become fundamentally better at overcoming the challenges—and capturing the opportunities—of today's rapidly changing environment both at home and abroad.
Askenas, Ron, Ulrich, Dave, Jick, Todd and Kerr, Steve (2002). The Boundaryless Organization, Breaking the Chains of Organizational Structure. Josey-Bass. San Francisco, CA.
Byran, Lowell and Joyce, Claudia. (2005). The 21st Century Organization: Big corporations must make sweeping organizational changes to get the best from their professionals. The McKinsey Quarterly.
Byran, Lowell and Joyce, Claudia. (2007). Better strategy through organizational design. McKinsley Quarterly. Retrieved from https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Better_strategy_through_organizational_design_1991
Daft, Richard (2007). Organization Theory and Design. Thomson South-Western, Mason: OH.
Dumais, Paul. The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations. weLEAD Online Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.leadingtoday.org/Onmag/2011%20Archives/Feb%2011/pd-february11.pdf.
Galbraith, Jay R. (2002). Designing Organizations, An Executive Guide to Strategy, Structure, and Process. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA
Galbraith, Jay R. (2000). Designing the Global Corporation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gilmore, Bridget (2007). The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations: Capitalizing on Intellectual Property. Retrieved from http://www.cioindex.com/cio_career/ArticleId/1303/The-Role-of-Organizational-Design-in-21st-Century-Organizations-Capitalizing-on-Intellectual-Propert.aspx
Handy, Charles (1990). The Age of Unreason. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing
Jenks, Deborah F. (2007). The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations. weLEAD Online Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.leadingtoday.org/Onmag/2007%20Archives/september07/dj-september07.pdf
Nadler, David A. and Tushman, Michael L. (1997). Competing By Design, The Power of Organizational Architecture. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.
About the author:
Jacob Kelly is a Doctorate candidate in Strategic Leadership at Regent University
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Leaders tend to invest a tremendous amount of time, money and energy in long-range initiatives and various organizational designs to achieve a competitive edge. However, no sooner than these initiatives hit the market, they became almost obsolete. Often, it appears that current organizational designs are too complex to blend in with unforeseen markets trends or too weak to quickly and effectiveJacob Kelly Articles
Organizations around the world have experienced far-reaching and powerful transformation in the last decade, including ups and downs that present challenges for the modern leader. These include the constant change in information technology, global competition, and the demand for flexibility and speed at the point of need for a sustainable advantage. Regardless of the degree of change that an organization must react to, the ability to think successfully in the future tense requires a common framework within the organization. What does this mean to organizations in the future? It means that the successful 21st century organization must be designed for success at all levels: individual, group, and organization. This article will examine how the components of individual, group, and organization can empower organizations to successfully configure structures, processes, reward systems, and people practices and policies.
It has been estimated that 80% of the jobs available in the USA within 20 years will be based on one’s intellectual capabilities. Therefore, the days of societies turning primarily to CEOs, generals, bishops, and other senior leaders for knowledge will shift across the entire organizational structure. James identifies a number of intellectual competences, certain skills that everyone must have, to know what the future will look like. Not in any specific order, these are the skills you will need: new lens view, strategic foresight, harnessing the power of myths, speed, knowledge of the past to predict the future, and doing more with less
An example of the nature of intelligence in relation to certain skills required in 21st century organizations is seen in the organizational design of Hewlett Packard in France and IBM in London. Both organizations created clubs that compensate you to join, but to maintain your membership you have to keep your skills current and continue producing revenue.
Higher education is a critical indicator of one’s intellectual capabilities. In fact, never before has the role of organizational design depended so profoundly on the acquisition of higher education. From a global viewpoint, in China and Japan over half the undergraduates receive their degrees in engineering and science. That compares to 32% in America. A weak education system equates to weak innovations, solutions, and intellectual capabilities required to create an effective organization capable of achieving the business strategy. In view of the global importance of higher education to organizational design, this educational imbalance stands as a clear message to 21st century American organizations: the ability to obtain and employ intelligence will be the new source of wealth.
Currently, there is a great interest in the study of organizational teams. This attention is in response to the competitive challenges and organizational needs of a flexible and adaptable organizational design for today, tomorrow, and the future. Groups, not individuals, are the ideal building blocks around which 21st century organizations should strategize. According to Jenewein and Morhart, there are three principles for properly shaping organizational design around groups: (1) personnel management: finding the right team members (2) leadership: putting the team first (3) team culture: courage to do the unconventional.
American society was built on the value of individual achievement. Today, for example, we have generation X that has been raised in an environment of individual achievement with such things as most valuable player in sports, competitive video gaming, television game show winners, and other ways of recognizing individual achievement. People do not relish channeling their individual identity to that of the group.
However, in the context of 21st century organizations’ desire for a team-oriented organizational design, collaboration is valued over competition. Organizations welcome a smooth process in a team setting. For example, when Boeing’s organizational design was at a crossroads, management decided that they would focus on transforming to a team-based organization. These changes included the creation of self-managing work teams based on their function and not their individual titles. As a result, the Boeing 717 project was a major success, and a new team-based culture was established.
The ability of an organization to see the entire landscape for a strategic advantage is the principle of a good organizational design. From this strategic viewpoint, the organization recognizes important patterns in its design for success. The span of organizational design has evolved, but no other design activity is more important to 21st century organizations than the element of continuous flexibility.
Flexibility is the organization’s ability to react to the constantly changing business world. One approach that Snull used to explain the art and science of applying flexibility in a constantly changing business world emerged directly out of the context of structure. He suggests that as organizations achieve success, their winning structure becomes embedded into the process, and the only way to stay clear of ad hoc changes is a flexible design. This is achieved by being leaner, closer to the action, staying focused, allowing equality of power, and holding a portfolio of options for an uncertain future. For instance, when Chevron issued a “best practices resource map” to their employees detailing innovations and contact information for the responsible people, new groups developed sparking learning, innovation, and flexibility. The key to a sustainable advantage in 21st century organizations is to include flexibility, but not to the extent that the design is not stable.
Certainly there are differences among individuals, groups, and organizations. Placed in similar situations, each will act differently. However, there are certain fundamental consistencies that are applicable to 21st century organizations. These fundamental consistencies (individuals, groups, and organizations) are extremely important to the organizational design because they generate predictability. The ideal situation is a balanced methodology between individuals, groups, and organizations within the organizational design. Organizations that do not continually develop their skills with flexibility will be threatened by agile competition willing to do so with no hesitation. The role of organizational design in the 21st century is being transformed, and everyone must be prepared to support it.
Englehardt, Charles, and Peter Simmons. “Organizational Flexibility for a Changing World.” Leadership & Organization Development Journal 23, no. 3 (2002): 113-21.
Galbraith, Jay, Diane Downey, and Amy Kates. Designing Dynamic Organizations. New York, NY: American Management Association, 2002.
Handy, Charles. The Age of Paradox. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1995.
James, Jennifer. “Thinking in the Future Tense.” Industrial and Commercial Training 30, no. 7 (1996): 28-32.
Jenewein, Wolfgang, and Felicitas Morhart. “Navigating Toward Team Success.” Team Performance Management 14, no. 1/2 (2008): 102-8.
Lewis, Pamela, Stephen Goodman, and Patricia Fandt. Management: Challenges for Tomorrow's Leaders. 4th ed. Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western, 2004.
Pina, Mary, Ana Martinez, and Luis Martinez. “Teams in Organizations: A Review on Team Effectiveness.” Team Performance Management 14, no. 1/2 (2008): 7-21.
Robbins, Stephen. Organizational Behavior. 10th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.
Sirias, Danilo, H.B. Karp, and Timothy Brotherton. “Comparing the Levels of Individualism/Collectivism between Baby Boomers and Generation X: Implications for Teamwork.” Management Research News 30, no. 10 (2007): 749-61.
Yankelovich, Daniel. “Ferment and Change: Higher Education in 2015.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 52, no. 14 (2005).
 Pamela Lewis, Stephen Goodman, and Patricia Fandt, Management: Challenges for Tomorrow's Leaders, 4th ed. (Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western, 2004), 3.
 Jay Galbraith, Diane Downey, and Amy Kates, Designing Dynamic Organizations (New York, NY: American Management Association, 2002), 2.
 Jennifer James, “Thinking in the Future Tense,” Industrial and Commercial Training 28, no. 7 (1996): 29.
 Ibid., 30.
 Charles Handy, The Age of Paradox (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1995), 219.
 Daniel Yankelovich, “Ferment and Change: Higher Education in 2015,” The Chronicle of Higher Education 52, no. 14 (2005).
 Handy, The Age of Paradox, 18-19.
 Mary Pina, Ana Martinez, and Luis Martinez, “Teams in Organizations: A Review on Team Effectiveness,” Team Performance Management 14, no. 1/2 (2008): 7.
 Wolfgang Jenewein and Felicitas Morhart, “Navigating Toward Team Success,” Team Performance Management 14, no. 1/2 (2008): 103.
 Danilo Sirias, H.B. Karp, and Timothy Brotherton, “Comparing the Levels of Individualism/Collectivism between Baby Boomers and Generation X: Implications for Teamwork,” Management Research News 30, no. 10 (2007): 750.
 Ibid., 753.
 Stephen Robbins, Organizational Behavior, 10th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003), 261.
 Galbraith, Downey, and Kates, Designing Dynamic Organizations, 2.
 Charles Englehardt and Peter Simmons, “Organizational Flexibility for a Changing World,” Leadership & Organization Development Journal 23, no. 3 (2002): 115.
 Ibid., 119.
*Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Introduction Organizations around the world have experienced far-reaching and powerful transformation in the last decade, including ups and downs that present challenges for the modern leader. These include the constant change in information technology, global competition, and the demand for flexibility and speed at the point of need for a sustainable aWilliam McClain Articles
Leaders from around all types of fields are facing a new kind of challenge: coping with the various waves of disruptive, revolutionary change. One wave has to do with the rise of the Internet-based “new” business and its driving force, the process of digitization (Castells, 1998; Kelly 1998). A second has to do with the rise of new relational patterns and their underlying driving forces: the processes of globalization (of markets, institutions, products), individualization (of products, people, and their careers), and increasingly networked structures and web shaped relationship patterns (Castells, 1996). A third and more subtle dimension of change has to do with the increasing relevance of experience, awareness and consciousness and their underlying driving force, the process of spiritualization (Conlin 1999) or, to use a less distracting term, the process of becoming aware of one’s more subtle experiences (Depraz, Varela and Vermersch, 1999). An example is the recent growth in interest in topics like “flow” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) or personal mastery (Senge, 1990) both inside and outside the world of business.
There are two different sources or processes of leadership: one that is based on reflecting the experiences of the past (Type I) and a second source, one that is grounded in sensing and enacting emerging futures (Type II). Each of these processes is based on a different temporal source of learning and requires individuals to work with fundamentally different learning cycles.
The temporal source of Type I learning is the past, or, to be more precise, the coming into presence of the past—learning revolves around reflecting on experiences of the past. All Kolb-type learning cycles are variations of this type of learning (Kolb 1984). Their basic sequence is action, concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and action again.
The temporal source of Type II learning is the future, or to be more precise, the coming into presence of the future. Type II learning is based on sensing and embodying emerging futures rather than re-enacting the patterns of the past. The sequence of activites in this learning process is seeing, sensing, presencing, and enacting.
Yet, Type I learning is no longer effective as the single source of learning, because the previous experiences embodied in the leadership team are no longer relevant to the challenges at hand. And the experiences that would be of relevance are not yet embodied in the experience base of the leadership team. The issue for leaders is how to learn from experience when the experience that matters most is the not-yet-embodied experience of the future.
Moreover, large-scale change, particularly transformational change, always plays out on multiple levels. The action (at level 0) is “above the waterline” and is embedded in four underlying or contextual levels of reorganization and change. The four underlying levels of reorganizing are restructuring (level 1), redesigning core processes (level 2), reframing mental models (level 3), and regenerating common will (level 4).
When leaders face a challenge, they must choose whether (1) to react directly to the issue (level 0) or (2) to step back, reflect, and reorganize the underlying contextual levels that gave rise to the challenge in the first place. Accordingly, we can distinguish among five different responses to change: reaction (the response on level 0), restructuring (the response on level 1), redesigning (the response on level 2), reframing (the response on level 3), and regenerating (the response on level 4).
The Invisible Territory of Leadership Practice
The invisible territory of a leadership practice (aka. blind spot) concerns the inner place from which an action—what leaders do—originates. Leaders are usually well aware of what they do and what others do; they also have some understanding of the process: how they do things, the processes they and others use when they act. And yet, there is a blind spot: usually they are unable to answer the question “Where does our action come from?” The blind spot concerns the (inner) source from which they operate when they do what they do—the quality of attention that they use to relate to the world (Scharmer, 2001).
I first began thinking about this blind spot when talking with the former a Senior Manager from IBM due to my research study about organisational learning. She told me that her greatest insight after years of conducting organizational learning projects was that “the success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor.” That sentence struck a chord. What counts is as Scharmer (2001) stated not only what leaders do and how they do it, but the inner place from which they operate (Scharmer, 2001).
I also realized that not only individuals but also organizations, institutions, and societies as a whole have this blind spot. What might really set successful organizations and societies apart has to do with that dimension that Senior Manager was talking about: the inner place from which a person, an organization, or a system operates.
The issue that most of today’s leaders face is that they haven’t yet learned how to see below the surface, how to decipher the subtle structures and principles of the territory underneath. They haven’t got the proper methods and tools yet that would allow them to dig beneath the surface to learn what otherwise would remain invisible. And yet, it is this invisible territory that is the most important when it comes to creating the conditions for good learning to occur. Maybe, leaders can learn to see what so far has largely remained invisible: the full process of coming-into-being of social action, the creation of a social reality (Scharmer, 2001). This invisible territory beneath the surface (aka. the territory of the blind spot) is what leaders should explore and describe.
Scharmer (2001) claims that the attention of the actor, group, or organization is exactly the blind spot that corresponds to the invisible quality of the field underneath the surface. He believes that the term ‘field structure of attention’ allows researchers to get their arms around a surface layer of social fields that is still somewhat accessible to scientific observation (Scharmer, 2001). In social fields the corresponding area is where the light of consciousness—our attention—meets and is permeated by that which normally is in the background of our awareness—the structure based upon which we pay attention to the world (Scharmer, 2001). Each field structure of attention embodies a particular type of relationship between the self and the world. Scharmer (2001) identifies seven archetypal field structures of attention that map the territory of the blind spot. They are:
1. Downloading: projecting habits of thought (seeing 0)
2. Seeing: precise observation from outside (seeing 1)
3. Sensing: perception from within the field/whole (seeing 2)
4. Presencing: perception from the source/highest future possibility (seeing 3)
5. Crystallizing vision and intent (seeing/acting from the future field)
6. Prototyping living examples and microcosms (in dialogue with emerging environments)
7. Embodying the new in practices, routines, and infrastructures.
These seven field structures of attention describe seven different ways of relating the self to the world. The one probably least familiar is that of presencing, a term that blends the two words “pre-sensing” and “presence.”According to Scharmer (2001), it means to pre-sense and bring into presence one’s highest future potential. Presencing liberating one’s perception from the “prison” of the past and then letting it operate from the field of the future. This means that we literally shift the place from which our perception operates to another vantage point. In practical terms, presencing means that we link ourselves in a very real way with our “highest future possibility” and that we let it come into the present. Presencing is always relevant when past-driven reality no longer brings us forward, and when we have the feeling that we have to begin again on a completely new footing in order to progress.
Presencing is both an individual and a collective phenomenon. For a social system to be transformed and for a profound innovation to come into being, the process must cross a threshold at the bottom of the ‘U’ (Scharmer, 2001). That threshold can be referred to as the eye of the needle. It is the location of the Self—one’s highest future possibility, both individually and collectively. At the moment we face that deep threshold, as economist Brian Arthur once put it, “everything that is not essential has to go away.” Having crossed this threshold, we experience a subtle and yet fundamental shift of the social field. So, instead of operating from a small localized self at the center of our own boundaries, we change our focus to operate from a larger presence that emerges from a sphere around us. The seven field qualities listed above represent archetypal patterns that apply to the evolution of systems at all levels (individuals, groups, institutions, ecosystems, and so forth) (Scharmer, 2001). They capture an evolutionary grammar of emerging systems from the viewpoint of the actors who actually bring about this process.
Every human being has the potential to activate this deeper capacity. Yet, although most people have had small pockets of this experience in their lives, they are quick to assert that this level of operating is not only very difficult to sustain but also seems almost impossible to perform on a collective level. In most institutions, people spend the most time in the mode of downloading, not in the mode of sensing or presencing the best future potential. What is missing, though, is the social leadership technology that would allow them to shift from learning from the past to learning from presencing emerging futures.
Defining the Social Technology of Leadership
The core of the social technology of leadership revolves around illuminating the blind spot by learning to use one’s self as the vehicle for the coming-into-being of one’s future potential (Scharmer, 2001). Scharmer (2001) defines leadership as the capacity to shift the inner place from which a system operates. And the most important tool in this leadership work is the leader him- or herself, and his or her capacity to make that shift first.
The seven field structures of attention and their underlying principles apply to the evolution of all systems (individuals, groups, institutions, ecosystems, and so forth). They provide a method for producing a common capacity to act from full presence in the “now” (Scharmer, 2001). They also introduce a language to articulate a universal social grammar for bringing forth new worlds (Scharmer, 2001). Presencing is both an individual and a collective phenomenon. The point of the presencing theory is that, for a social system to go through a profound process of transformation, the process must cross a subtle threshold, a threshold that Scharmer (2001) refers to as the eye of the needle. The eye of the needle is the Self—our highest future possibility, both individually and collectively.
Changing one’s method of leadership, when defined as shifting the place from which a system operates, involves a deep cultivation and inversion of one’s quality of attention.
• the inversion of thinking: from being bound by judgmental reactions to opening up one’s thoughts as a gateway to perception and apprehension (“access your ignorance”)
• the inversion of feeling: from being bound by emotional reactions to opening up one’s heart as a gateway to sensing—to enhanced perception and apprehension (“access your emotional intelligence”)
• the inversion of will: from being bound by old intentions and identities to letting go of them and opening up to one’s higher self as gateway to presencing the new that wants to emerge (“access your Self”).
The blind spot can be described in terms of experience (the self), leadership (source of action), organizational learning (learning from the future rather than the past), systems theory (deep field conditions from which social systems arise), as well as capitalism and democracy. For each aspect the same point could be made: that there is a blind spot in the current theory and practice of leading, learning, and change—and that the blind spot concerns the deeper source, the inner place from which an individual or a system operates. The following five practices appear paramount:
- observing: seeing reality with fresh eyes
- sensing: tuning in to emerging patterns that inform future possibilities
- presencing: accessing one’s inner sources of creativity and will
- envisioning: crystallizing vision and intent
- executing: acting in an instant to capitalize on new opportunities
These five practices embody a single movement of co-sensing, co-presencing, and cocreating the reality that wants to emerge.
The cultivation of this leadership capacity involves an inversion of one’s field quality of attention. Crossing the thresholds requires one to transform old patterns of thought, emotion, and intention by (Scharmer, 2001):
• opening the mind: through appreciative inquiry rather than judgmental reaction;
• opening the heart: by providing a gateway to sensing rather than reacting emotionally;
• opening the will: by opening up to one’s higher self and letting go of old intentions and identities.
Performing this new art of leadership effectively requires developing and refining a new leadership technology—a social technology of leadership. In contrast to a social technology of manipulation or control, a social leadership technology focuses on methods and tools that help diverse groups of stakeholders to see, sense, and create together in a way that transforms past patterns and actualizes future possibilities. The most important tool of this technology is the leader’s self, his or her capacity to shift the inner place from which he or she operates.
Arthur, W. B. (2000), Sense Making in the New Economy. Conversation with W. Brian Arthur,
Xerox Parc, Palo Alto, April 16, 1999, in: Scharmer, C.O. et al (eds.), Accessing Experience, Awareness and Will. 25 Dialogue-Interviews on the foundation of knowledge, awareness and leadership. Unpublished project report, Cambridge, MA, August 2000, Vol. IV: 541-576.
Castells, M. (1996-98), The information age: economy, society, and structure. vol.s 1-3. London: Blackwell.
Conlin, M. (1999) Religion in the Workplace, The growing presence of spirituality in Corporate America, in: Business Week, New York, November 1, 1999. Issue: 3653
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990), Flow. The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York, N.Y.: Harper Perennial.
Depraz, N., F. Varela and P Vermersch (1999), The Gesture of Awareness. An account of its structural dynamics, in: M.Velmans (Ed.), Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness, Benjamin Publishers, Amsterdam.
Kelly, K. (1998), New Rules for the New Economy. 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World. New York, NY: Viking.
About the author:
Ayse is a graduate student in the field of organizational learning and now an adjunct lecturer and consultant in this field. You can find more info about Ayse at http://www.aysekok.info/
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Leaders from around all types of fields are facing a new kind of challenge: coping with the various waves of disruptive, revolutionary change. One wave has to do with the rise of the Internet-based “new” business and its driving force, the process of digitization (Castells, 1998; Kelly 1998). A second has to do with the rise of new relational patterns and their underlyinAyse Kok Articles
It's mind boggling, to say the least. If you took all the accumulated knowledge in the history of the world and put it into a pile, you'd have an enormous pile. But 3 years later, you could put another pile of the same size next to the first one, and it would consist of all the new knowledge that has accumulated in just those 3 years.
1. Information Explosion
New knowledge breeds new knowledge. One idea leads to another idea and another ten ideas. Knowledge doesn't just grow; it multiplies.
No one knew that better than the world-famous, Nobel-winning physicist Dr. Albert Einstein. While teaching at Princeton, he was walking back to his office after giving his students their final exam. As he walked along, he was accompanied by his teaching assistant who asked, Dr. Einstein, wasn't that the same exam you gave last year?"
Einstein said, "Yeah, the same exam." But his assistant wondered, "How could you give the same exam 2 years in a row?" Einstein answered, "Well, the answers have changed."
How true. Information explosion brings new knowledge, new answers, and even new words. Perhaps you've heard some of the newest words floating around some organizations these days. They include:
*BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed, how a project failed, and who was responsible.
*ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
*CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.
*PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.
*MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.
*STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.
*SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
*XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.
*PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the heck out of an electronic device to get it to work again.
*OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake, such as hitting "Send" on an e-mail by mistake.
So yes, information explosion is driving change, but most people are woefully unprepared. They're not keeping up or even trying to keep up with the information that will be critical to their personal and professional success. According to the American Booksellers Association, 80% of American families did not buy or read a single book last year. And 58% of American adults never read another book after they finish high school, including 42% of college grads. Apparently, books are widely distributed and evenly ignored.
It makes no sense to me. If you're going to survive and thrive in the midst of information explosion, you must make a commitment to knowledge acquisition. Knowledge is the raw material of success. And knowledge ... turned into skill ... is one of the ways you can cope with change and succeed in change.
Contrary to popular opinion, ignorance is not bliss. As the Haitian proverb states, "Ignorance doesn't kill you but it makes you sweat a lot." And lose a lot.
But there's no need for that. Information is everywhere. Take advantage of it. Read books and educational articles. Listen to motivational recordings. Go to seminars. The top 10% in any field ALWAYS do that, and they do it on a consistent, regular basis. As Benjamin Franklin said, "We are all born ignorant, but you have to work hard to stay that way."
Another major driving force in our world of change is...
It wasn't too many years ago people used to brag about being computer illiterate. They would pronounce, somewhat proudly, they didn't even know how to turn on a computer. And people around them would nod and smile. But now, if you were to say you didn't know how to turn on a computer, people would no longer nod and smile. They will look at you with pity.
If you're going to make it in these changing times, you must understand two things about technology. First, it's coming out faster and faster. According to Gordon Moore's law, the speed of information processing doubles every 2 years as the cost drops in half. And his law has proven to be right for 45 years.
Just look at these examples to see how the pace of technology is increasing.
TECHNOLOGY YEAR INVENTED YEAR MANUFACTURED NUMBER OF YEARS FROM CONCEPTION TO PRODUCTION
Florescent light 1852-1934 = 82 years
Ball point pen 1888-1938 = 50 years
Television 1907-1936 = 29 years
Transistor 1940-1950 = 10 years
Computer 1946-1954 = 8 years
Nuclear fission 1941-1945 = 4 years
Of course, these days, the time between conception and production may be a matter of months or weeks instead of years. The pace of new technology is RAPIDLY increasing.
The second thing you must understand about technology is the fact that it is always resisted ... at first. As the great engineer Charles Kettering observed, "Everybody is naturally negative to anything outside his own experience."
Almost every technological advance has some aspects to it that are unintelligible to the ordinary mind. And what people do not understand ... they deride out of ignorance or oppose out of fear.
Your only salvation is to keep up with the new technology and adopt those technologies that make sense in your career or your personal life. That's why my professional group ... called Master Speakers International ... spends a few hours every year sharing the new technologies we've learned and recommend to one another.
Despite the initial resistance that always comes with new technologies, there is some good news. Once you learn to use the new technology, you almost never want to go back to the old way of doing things.
I remember that when I was conducting seminars for the Safeway food stores years ago. As you may remember, grocery employees used to put a price sticker on every item in the store, and the cashier had to manually key in every price for every item at the check-out counter. The process was time consuming and the margin of error was high.
Then the bar code scanning system entered the grocery stores in the mid 1980's. It allowed the cashier to simply scan the grocery items across an instrument panel that automatically decoded and accurately recorded the prices. At first, the cashiers were skeptical. They were afraid of the new "cash registers."
But after their initial fear disappeared, the cashiers loved the new technology. There were fewer mistakes, and they could check out many more customers in a given period of time. Today, if the scanners were taken away and if the old cash registers were re-installed, the cashiers would not be happy.
The point is ... people forget the fear of change as soon as they realize the benefit of change.
Finally, the third driving force in change is...
It's everywhere. In fact competition is fiercer today than ever before in human history. Every business has to somehow or other compete with every other business on the face of the Earth.
With the explosion of information and technology, there just aren't that many ignorant, uninformed customers or prospective customers left anymore. Just about everybody knows what everything costs, or they can find out who sells it cheaper and delivers it faster somewhere else in the world. And just about everybody knows the difference between quality and a lack of quality, and they want quality.
But even those two things ... cost and quality ... are no longer good enough to stay competitive.
When I surveyed thousands of American managers years ago, I asked them what they thought was the key to success in the future of their business. They all said "quality". A short time later, while I was teaching in Japan, I asked the same question of Japanese managers. They all said "innovation". From their point of view, quality was a given; quality was the minimum requirement to even be in business. But it would take innovation to stay in business in such a highly competitive world. I think they were right.
You've got to innovate ... which means you've got to keep on changing things to satisfy your customer ... who wants a safer car, a more energy-efficient home, a faster computer, a more colorful cell phone, and a million new other products. The competition is providing those things, so you have to as well.
It's no longer safe to be a slow lion or a plodding gazelle. As the story goes, every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up and knows he must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. And every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and knows he has to run faster than the slowest member of the herd to live that day. So it doesn't matter if you're a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.
Design your own plan for your own continuing education so you stay on top of change rather than beneath it.
About the author:
2011 Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman, a full-time professional speaker who specializes in attitude, motivation, and leadership programs that pay off. For more information on his programs ... or to receive your own free subscription to the 'Tuesday Tip' ... go tohttp://www.drzimmerman.com/
It's mind boggling, to say the least. If you took all the accumulated knowledge in the history of the world and put it into a pile, you'd have an enormous pile. But 3 years later, you could put another pile of the same size next to the first one, and it would consist of all the new knowledge that has accumulated in just those 3 years. 1. InformatioAlan Zimmerman Articles
Burnout. Too many priorities to tackle. Insufficient resources. Difficulty motivating volunteers or staff. These are the challenges facing executives and managers of non-profit organizations and agencies. Non-profits are having the same problems as for-profit corporations, such as concerns of recruiting and retaining excellent staff, with the added difficulty of fewer resources to execute tasks and to attract employees. In addition, those organizations receiving grantor funding must provide greater assurance that they will be able to deliver on the funded project goals. The work of non-profit organizations is vital to our society, but how do we inspire, motivate, and support the leaders of these important agencies? One of the most proven and cost-effective methods for enhancing loyalty, retention, and the accomplishment of goals is Coaching.
According to Daniel Goleman (2006), psychologist and award-winning author of Emotional Intelligence (EI) says, nonprofit leaders can incorporate different leadership styles in their relationships with employees. The leadership style used least by nonprofit leaders is the Coaching style. In a nutshell, Coaching leaders encourage employees to establish long-term development goals and help them conceptualize a plan for attaining them. The ongoing dialogue in a coaching relationship ensures that employees know what is expected of them, and how their work fits into a larger vision of where the organization is going. Coaching is a relatively new and promising tool for leadership development for non profit leaders who find themselves in an increasingly challenged and often isolated role, according to a national study of nonprofit executive leadership conducted by Compass Point (Wolfred, Belland Moyers, 2001). Statistical surveys and anecdotal evidence alike support Coaching as a great instrument for advancing nonprofit leadership and improving nonprofit organizational effectiveness. Leadership Coaching requires exceptional leadership and questioning skills to be effective. At no point is leadership more important than in assisting others in defining their performance issues and identifying the underlying causes. This Situational Leadership style provides the needed structure to guide leaders in working with their clients.
The underlying principle in Situational Leadership is that Executive Coaches should adjust their leadership styles to their client’s readiness level (ability and willingness) to perform a given task. Leadership is the amount of task behavior (direction) and relationship behavior (support) given by a leader. To be effective the Coach must adjust the way in which they lead their clients based on their level of readiness for each task that they are expected to perform. Leadership coaching is a unique application of the principles of Situational Leadership that guides leader coaches as they work with their clients.
The Situational Leadership method from Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey holds that managers must use different leadership styles depending on the situation. The model allows you to analyze the needs of the situation you’re in, and then use the most appropriate leadership style. Depending on employees’ competences in their task areas and commitment to their tasks, your leadership style should vary from one person to another. You may even lead the same person one way sometimes, and another way at other times.
Blanchard and Hersey (1985) characterized leadership style in terms of the amount of direction and of support that the leader gives to his or her followers, and so created a simple matrix.
The lowest readiness level (D1) for an individual or group is described as not willing and not able to do a given task. The appropriate leadership style (SI) is that of providing high amounts of task behavior (direction) and low amounts of relationship behavior (support). The next readiness level (D2) is described as willing but not able. The appropriate leadership style (S2) is that of high amounts of both task and relationship behavior.
The next readiness level (D3) is described as able but unwilling in that the individual lacks confidence or commitment. The appropriate leadership style (S3) is that of high amounts of relationship behavior and low amounts of task behavior. The highest readiness level for a group or individual to do a given task is willing and able (D4). The appropriate leadership style is that of low amounts of both relationship and task behavior.
Within the learning organization there is a focus on developing new ways of thinking and working (Senge, 1999). A coaching culture is the framework of any learning organization. These organizations are characterized by relationships of trust, collaboration, insightful guidance, and a focus on assisting people to maximize their potential. Learning organizations differ from others in that they have shifted from a focus on performance to an emphasis on sustainable growth. People are given the opportunity to enhance and strengthen the concept of ongoing learning and development by creating a culture where coaching thrives.
Regardless of which enterprise the Coach is engaged in, he or she requires a solid knowledge of the organization. The coach has to be aware of its climate and culture, the current challenges it faces, its current learning and development programs and its people management programs and philosophy. Although the importance and usefulness of conducting a Coaching Needs Analysis alone is not sufficient for the Coach to embark upon working in an organization. In the same way, neither process knowledge or proven ability to work with personal mastery skills will equip the Coach to work effectively in an organization.
The Coach has to be familiar with various models of organizational change and the model or framework, either explicit or implicit, within which the particular organization operates. If a Coach chooses to work within an organizational environment, it is recommended that he or she adopt a systemic approach, that is, one that recognizes, acknowledges and can work with both internal and external factors that impact on the organization and its individuals. The Coach’s role may be to focus on human processes in the organization, on organizational design, developing and enhancing job competencies, or on coaching individuals through technology change programs.
The Coach as change agent is a person who is formally conducting a change effort. The change agent is involved in all steps of the process of change. Coaches are required to both change the level and standard of personal and professional skills sets, attitudes, thinking, beliefs, values, motivation of an individual or group, in order to help them (and their organization) perform even better and derive greater satisfaction from their everyday work life and their careers. Coaching is fundamentally about achieving behavioral change (what people do and say).
Coaching Leadership works well when employees want to advance and achieve their potential. This type of leadership doesn't work as well when employees are resistant to learning or changing their ways. In such situations, nonprofit leaders have to dig below the surface to understand what's causing the resistance. They will often discover that the resistance stems from a misunderstanding of the process: unlike many so-called "performance improvement plans," which are thinly disguised warnings to improve one's performance or face some undesirable consequence, the professional development plan with its clearly defined milestones and measures of success is designed to help employees succeed.
Coaching can occur one-on-one or in groups, on the telephone or in-person. When considering the cost of replacing and training key staff members, volunteers, and leaders, it is one of the most proven and cost-effective methods for enhancing loyalty and retention, the accomplishment of goals, and the power to transform organizations and their communities.In her article, “The Case for a Coach,” in Association Management, April 2001, Sheila
Maher outlines some of the advantages of coaching for non-profit leaders, managers, and volunteers. Maher’s experience coaching key staff officers at various associations has demonstrated that coaching provides:
• The ability to lead with vision rather than just manage day-to-day activities
• Reduction of over-commitment and stress
• Continued strategic thinking even when pulled in many directions
• Maximized staff effectiveness rather than micro-managing
• Using time more effectively
• Improved interpersonal skills in dealing with difficult people
Mary Beth Bos, CFRE, in her article “Leading on the Frontlines with a Coach on the Sidelines,” Customer Development Solutions, quotes a social services executive, a human services executive director, a foundation CEO, and an arts executive director on what they obtained from coaching. Their descriptions can be summarized as:
• Feeling “heard” and being self-expressed
• Establishing a vision, encouraging ownership, fostering partnership, and improving pacing
• Improved ability to be pro-active, accessible and open to staff
• Building cooperation and team-spirit, increased respect from others, and a stronger ability to handle issues before they reach a crisis stage
In addition, the non-profit leader--whether board member, volunteer, executive, or department manager--benefits personally with improved health and well-being, greater life balance, less stress, and greater productivity. The organization benefits from a more well-rounded, loyal, and dedicated leader with a clear vision, better strategies to reach goals, improved relationships with and outside the organization, improved morale, and a more successful plan of work. They are also more efficient and work in a manner consistent with the agency’s goals and plans. Even the volunteer leadership of a non-profit organization can benefit from coaching when it affects one’s individual career.
Blanchard, K.H. & Hersey, P. (1985). SLII: A situational approach to managing people. Escondido, CA: Blanchard Training and Development.
Goleman, D. (2006). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Bantam Books.
Goldsmith, M. & Lyon, L. (2006).Coaching for leadership (2nd Ed). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Peters, J. and Wolfred, T. (2001) CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, San Francisco. See also Teirney, T. (2006) The Nonprofit Sector’s Leadership Deficit. The Bridgespan Group; and Bell, J, Moyers, R. and T. Wolfred (2006) Daring to Lead 2006: A National study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership.CompassPoint/Meyer Foundation.
Senge (1999). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. Currency-Doubleday.
Burnout. Too many priorities to tackle. Insufficient resources. Difficulty motivating volunteers or staff. These are the challenges facing executives and managers of non-profit organizations and agencies. Non-profits are having the same problems as for-profit corporations, such as concerns of recruiting and retaining excellent staff, with the added difficultyMaxine Scott Articles
Homer Hickam probably isn’t a name very many will recognize, but early in his life he knew what he loved and wanted for a career. He wanted to be a rocket scientist. Mr. Hickman is the author of many books including Rocket Boys, the memoir about his boyhood adventures building rockets and growing up in the mining town of Coalwood, West Virginia 1. Rocket Boys was made into an award-winning 1999 motion picture titled October Sky. The author had a boyhood dream of becoming a rocket scientist, and eventually became an engineer at NASA. What he did for a living was real rocket science!
Rocket scientists are viewed by society as having a great deal of intelligence. What they do is considered difficult. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, head of the Defense Department's missile-defense, in recently referring to ABM missile-defense research said, “This is rocket science, and it is difficult...” 2
Because of widespread acknowledgement that rocket science is complex and difficult, we often hear politicians and business leaders saying, “This is not rocket science.” This means that what they are talking about is not that difficult to understand.
For example, Gary Ruskin, the director of the Congressional Accountability Project (an organization founded by Ralph Nader), in arguing for more disclosure of public documents on the Internet, recently said, “None of this is rocket science. A perfectly competent 12-year-old could write this database.” 3
Pete Stark (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee recently said, “Mr. Bush, let’s not waste time on this proposal…This is not rocket science. The outlines for a compromise are pretty clear.” 4
Finally, John F. “Jack” Welch, 5 20 year Chairman and CEO of General Electric, gave this advice to the MBA class of 2001 at Harvard Business School:
“Business isn’t rocket science…Your job as a manager is to give people confidence.” 6
Business may not be rocket science, but it should be what I call “heart science!” Rocket science is difficult to understand and difficult to do. Heart science is simple to understand butdifficult to do. Heart science is what it takes to build and maintain an organizational “culture of the heart.”
Three of the companies at the top of Fortune magazine’s 7 annual listing of “the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America”—Southwest Airlines 8, Synovus Financial 9, and The Container Store 10—have all created and sustained such a culture of the heart. It is based on the premise that if you take care of people, the profit will take care of itself. It’s people caring for people. It is putting people first.
Synovus corporate values include applying the Golden Rule. Their corporate web site contains this message:
“It all starts with treating people right—the way you want to be treated. It's an old cliché', but it makes a lot of sense to us.” 11
In a Synovus produced video entitled “A Culture of the Heart” these values are further explained:
“Take care of your people. Take care of your customers. Treat them like you want to be treated. That’s the key.” (Spoken by Stephen T. Butler, President and CEO of W.C. Bradley Company, a company established by the same family that established Synovus.)
Treating people like you want to be treated is known as the Golden Rule. Southwest Airlines’ philosophy includes eleven primary attitudes. One of these is “always practice the Golden Rule, internally and externally.” (Freiberg, 1996)
At The Container Store the maxim “treat people as you want to be treated” is granted policy status. 12
All three of these companies make practicing the Golden Rule an important part of their corporate philosophy. Is it a mere coincidence that all three of these companies have also been recognized as the #1 company to work for in America in Fortune magazine’s annual listing of “the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America?”
Habitually practicing the Golden Rule creates and maintains a healthy culture with a family atmosphere. This is true in an actual family, a church “family,” or a business “family.”
Synovus companies are referred to as the “Synovus family.” The personnel within the Synovus family of companies are referred to as “team members” rather than employees. Taking care of the 12,000 people within the Synovus family means being sure that team members don’t feel a need to separate their job from the rest of their life. Life should be one indivisible whole. The centerpiece of the Synovus culture of the heart is making sure people know they are cared for, above and beyond the work they happen to do on the job in daylight hours.
Synovus and the W. C. Bradley Co. are two separate companies that have similar cultures. This is because the same family established both of them. In fact, several directors serve on the boards of both companies. This has been true virtually for the entire existence of Synovus. A few years ago an employee at W. C Bradley Co. lost a child, and in a letter of appreciation to the company for the support she received she wrote, “The beauty of this company is that when one person cries, everyone tastes the tears.”
Some writers say that practicing the Golden Rule is not good. Buckingham and Coffman, authors of First Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (Simon & Schuster, 1999) say that great managers should ignore the Golden Rule–“Do unto others as you would have done to you”–and instead treat your employees as they would like to be treated. (Schwartz, 2000)
Unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception of what the Golden Rule actually teaches. To illustrate, it is not saying that if I like peanuts, then I should give peanuts to others, even if they are allergic to peanuts! That is focusing on a particular personal preference. One must look beyond the specific practice to the underlying principles! The Golden Rule is not about specific practices, or imposing your personal tastes, likes, or dislikes on others. It is about practicing timeless universal principles that build and maintain sound human relationships. The Golden Rule is about treating others by the same principles that you want to be treated.
The Golden Rule must be practiced within a principle-centered culture. The Golden Rule teaches us that the way to treat others should be based on the very same principles that we hold dear, such as respect, human dignity, kindness, cooperation, generosity, commitment, discipline, sacrifice, due process, humility, honesty, fairness, and service. A culture that is not aligned with these and other principles will be a culture that is politicized, devoid of genuine service, and probably will behave unethically under pressure. These principles serve as a moral compass to guide decision-making. Personal character is irrevocably related to these timeless principles, and is the starting point to building a culture of the heart.
Being principle-centered is not simply an intellectual exercise. Knowing about principles is not the same as living by them. Knowledge alone does not change behavior. There must be a connection made between the head and the heart. Before behavior changes, a desire to change must be present. We must desire to align our hearts to these principles. That is part of heart science. It is simple to comprehend but difficult to do. However, if enough individuals within an organization do this, the culture will begin to shift toward a culture of the heart. Companies with a culture of the heart try to hire new employees that are principle-centered and demonstrate a genuine attitude of service.
Max DePree, in his book Leadership Jazz, says, “Above all, leadership is a position of servanthood. Leadership is also a posture of debt; it is a forfeiture of rights.”
This is a critical point. I have encountered some who claim they want to be servant leaders, yet constantly exercise and guard “their rights” rather than forfeiting them as a humble servant. They lack a heart of submission to those they serve. They do not understand you can’t serve both the master of control and the master of service! Eventually such a leader will hold to one master, and despise the other.
I have watched some, who thought they wanted to be servant leaders, struggle between these two masters. When they finally discovered the reality of servant leadership— a forfeiture of rights—some actually turned and began to despise the concept! They had finally realized that a servant leader is often treated as a servant!
Max DePree said it so well:
“Vulnerability is the opposite of self-expression. Vulnerable leaders trust in the abilities of others; vulnerable leaders allow the people who follow them to do their best.”
Managers who desire predictability through high control crush creativity, initiative, and commitment. They may talk participation, but it is only surface deep. Their real desires ultimately result in producing cynicism within the culture. When employees genuinely know that they come first, the result is trust in the organization and love for their leaders. Leaders who feel they are not trusted and loved might do well to examine their own heart and motives. Is predictability and control more important to you than the growth of your people?
Max DePree reminds us, “There is no such thing as safe vulnerability.”
Peter Block wrote:
"If our organizations are to survive, the redistribution of purpose, power, and privilege will have to take place with the involvement and consent of those who in some ways stand to lose the most[emphasis mine], the managerial class. And this is basically what choosing service requires."
That is how you move toward a culture of the heart. You choose service over self-interest. Not a patriarchal (parenting) kind of service, where “father knows best,” but a true servant leadership kind of service. There is a difference! A true servant leader listens first! He doesn’t just decide what is best for you. He doesn’t do it his way. He is governed by principles and governs by principles. We show respect when we really listen to others. That is how people in a culture of the heart GROW.
When people talk to one another, there are often two meanings to what they say. The first is the meaning of what is actually stated. The second is the metamessage. It is meaning that is not stated—at least not in words—but is gleaned from every aspect of context: the way something is said, who is saying it, or the fact that it is said at all. The metamessage is the "heart meaning"—the meaning we react to most strongly, that triggers emotion. (Tannen, 2001) In a culture of the heart the message and metamessage should complement, not contradict each other. There should be no need to “read the tea leaves” to find out what is really being said.
A culture of the heart rewards such open, honest expressions of concern and questions. Responses to such questions are also honest and devoid of duplicity. When people sense duplicity, they are guarded in their communication and trust evaporates.
Dr. Stephen Covey says:
“Many executives say they value capitalism, but they reward feudalism…They say they value openness…but they behave in ways that value closeness, hidden agendas, and politicking.” (Covey, 1991)
One other important characteristic of a culture of the heart needs to be mentioned. A culture of the heart encourages everyone to keep promises and honor commitments. Violating commitments when “conditions change” is a major emotional withdrawal. Heart science requires being very careful about what we promise, and then making sure we honor all our promises.
If conditions change, don’t renege on your commitments through the exercise of positional power. Instead, go to the person or persons you made your promise to and ask to be released from the promise. Usually they will release you. However, be prepared to honor your promise to your own hurt when necessary. This is what it means to live by the principle of integrity. In the long run such actions will build trust. Trust is essential to a culture of the heart.
Some argue that all this sounds good, but “this soft stuff really doesn’t work.” However, the facts prove just the opposite! The Gallup Organization has analyzed 25 years’ worth of interviews with more than 1 million workers. They have concluded that the single most important variable in employee productivity and loyalty is not pay or benefits. The single most important factor is thequality of the relationship between the employees and their direct supervisors. It turns out the greatest sources of satisfaction in the workplace are internal and emotional, not financial. (Schwartz, 2000)
People desire a leader who sets clear and consistent expectations, provides the necessary resources, genuinely cares for them, values and encourages them, and supports their growth and development. As the saying goes, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”
Mother Teresa said, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.” This is as true in the corridors of big business as it is in the ghettos. (Freiberg, 1996) Companies with a culture of the heart understand this need and work diligently to meet it. They encourage their management to promote and even celebrate the success of their employees. Most do it because it is good business and the right thing to do! Intelligent business leaders know there is really no substitute for managing a company with honest and caring people.
This is why Robert Greenleaf, the father of modern servant leadership thinking, said that servant leadership is about making the people around you to grow as persons.
If your people don’t perceive themselves as growing, are you really serving them? When was the last time you asked them for frank and honest feedback regarding your contribution to their growth?
A recent article in ABCNEWS.com’s “Working Wounded” 13 discussed performance reviews. It compared some performance reviews to having a pit bull sink its teeth into you! The article said that it seems like some supervisors grow new teeth just for the purpose of performance reviews. Other supervisors may put off reviews because they dread the process.
Synovus has recognized that it is difficult for most managers and team members to have a frank and constructive conversation about performance if there is money on the line. So they have separated the evaluation process from salary adjustments. Synovus has redesigned the whole process and named it Right Steps for Performance Development. 14
Performance reviews in an organization with a culture of the heart should be very different from traditional reviews. Reviews in a culture of the heart are seen as a development tool. Reviews are often held several times a year, not just annually.
Leaders use Right Steps meetings at Synovus to determine (1) what the team member enjoys, (2) what he/she wants to do in the future, and (3) what the company needs him/her to do. The company then tries to place each team member in a position where the team member can fulfill all three. They understand that satisfied team members are those whose jobs fulfill each of these criteria. The manager uses the performance review to help the team member identify future growth options and build a career plan. The focus is on the growth of people, not sitting in judgment of people.
The bottom line is that companies with a principle-centered culture of the heart have lower turnover, are more productive, and maintain higher customer loyalty than those who don’t.
According to BusinessWeek, TSYS, a payment services company in which Synovus owns an 80.8-percent stake, recently ranked the 75th best overall performer among “The 100 Best Small Companies,” and 10th within the banking industry group. Synovus also ranked #5 among 128 companies researched in Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc.’s annual Honor Roll, which recognizes those banking companies that have continually reported increases in earnings per share—regardless of the banking environment—over the last decade. Only 13 have posted a 10-year record worthy of admission to the Honor Roll!
Synovus was also recently named in Working Mother magazine's 15th annual survey as one of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers." They received the top score in the category of "Flexibility" afforded to working moms, and additional high marks in the categories of "Leave for New Parents," "Work/Life" and "Advancing Women."
Synovus and its family of companies recently ranked 23rd in Training magazine’s annual survey of the "Top 50 Training Organizations." They have also been named 10th in the most recent edition of The 100 Best Stocks to Own in America.
These results demonstrate that practicing the Golden Rule and having a culture of the heart is not only a “good idea”, but is also very sound business!
Edwin Markham said: “We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.”
Jack Welch, CEO of GE, one of the most admired companies in the world, knows what he is talking about when he says, “Business isn’t rocket science.” The Golden Rule is not rocket science, and creating and sustaining a culture of the heart is not rocket science. It is easy to understand, but hard to practice. It takes considerable strength of character! This is heart science!
Comments to: email@example.com
Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for eight years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
6. Ribitzky, Romy. “Congrats Grads, Now What?” abcNEWS.com. June 12, 2001. (more.abcnews.go.com/sections/business/dailynews/commencement_advice_010512.html)
12. Roth, Daniel. “My Job At The Container Store” Fortune.com. January 10, 2000. (www.fortune.com/indexw.jhtml?co_id=359&doc_id=201104&channel=artcol.jhtml&_DARGS=%2Ffragments%2Ffrg_top_story_body.jhtml.1_A&_DAV=artcol.jhtml)
13. Rosner, Bob. “Sitting in Judgment: Grading Employees' Performance”. AbcNEWS.com: Working Wounded. June 25, 2001. (abcnews.go.com/sections/business/WorkingWounded/workingwounded010622.html)
Block, Peter. Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1993.
Brooker, Katrina. “The Chairman of the Board Looks Back” Fortune Vol. 143, No. 11, May 28, 2001: 62-76.
Colvin, Geoffrey. "America's Most Admired Companies." Fortune. February 21, 2000: 108-110.
Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.
Covey, Stephen R. Principle-Centered Leadership. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
DePree, Max. Leadership Jazz. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Fitz-Enz, Jac. The 8 Practices of Exceptional Companies: How Great Organizations Make the Most of Their Human Assets. New York: American Management Association, 1997.
Freiberg, Kevin and Jackie. NUTS! Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success. Austin: Bard Press, Inc. 1996.
Harris Ph.D., Jim. Getting Employees to Fall in Love with Your Company. New York: AMACON, 1996.
Huey, John and Geoffrey Colvin. "The Jack and Herb Show." Fortune. January 11, 1999.
Lee, Blaine. The Power Principle: Influence with Honor. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
Levering, Robert and Milton Moskowitz. The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America. Currency and Doubleday. 1993.
Schwartz, Tony. “The Greatest Sources of Satisfaction in the Workplace are Internal and Emotional” Fast Company Vol. 40, November 2000: 398-402.
Spears, Larry, editor. Reflections on Leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf’s Theory of Servant-Leadership Influenced Today’s Top Management Thinkers. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995.
Stein, Nicholas. "The World's Most Admired Companies." Fortune. October 2, 2000:183-196.
Tannen, Deborah. "What's THAT Supposed to Mean?” Readers Digest. July, 2001: 103-107.
“Super Kids” Modern Maturity Vol. 44, No. 4, July/August, 2001.
Homer Hickam probably isn’t a name very many will recognize, but early in his life he knew what he loved and wanted for a career. He wanted to be a rocket scientist. Mr. Hickman is the author of many books including Rocket Boys, the memoir about his boyhood adventures building rockets and growing up in the mining town of Coalwood, West Virginia 1. Rocket BoysJ. Howard Baker Articles
I recently made the transition from a small service driven organization focused on staff training to a very large and diverse organization that seems to have forgotten about training. I find myself shocked on a daily basis when I see smart, hardworking people struggling to perform the tasks that make up their daily work life, in a broad organization that has not made the investment in training. I am liable to talk about the key role leadership would play in moving people forward and in accomplishing an organizations goals but without training our people are not capable of success and cannot possibly accomplish the tasks we would assign them. Training is a key step in setting our people and our organizations up to be successful and if we are not training we are very likely not succeeding.
Training at its heart is change management. Done right and by that I mean consistently and with an eye toward quality, training is a very subtle effort toward keeping our core knowledge and skills in line with our emerging organizational goals and performance priorities. A consistent effort toward training is so subtle and so inconspicuous that most among us would hardly even know it was occurring or be aware that our knowledge, skills and abilities were being upgraded and enhanced, our natural and normal fear and resistance to change barely having the opportunity to rear its ugly head. Unfortunately most businesses and organizations under commit to training and rather than celebrating the opportunities that training affords us, we are in a position of forcing change and get to experience all the happy interactions that go with that. None of us, particularly older males, like change. A consistent effort toward training avoids our having to reinvent our job every quarter and allows us to grow and improve without our being afraid or even aware.
Training is the very best way to achieve our team and organizational goals, accomplishing this by setting up our individual team members to be successful. As leaders we can talk in terms of mission or task accomplishment but unless we are including training in our strategic plans, our chances of success are minimized and those lofty expectations we have laid out for our people and our organization will likely go unrealized, with our status and stature as a leader compromised and our people unwilling to follow. People, our staffs in other words, tend to be very unforgiving of failure and have long memories when led down that path. Training does not guarantee success but it does ensure our people are properly equipped to take on the tasks and challenges that are likely to come their way. Failing to train our people is a genuine and imminent threat to the viability of our business or organization and sells our staff short by setting them up for failure.
Most among us do not look upon training the same way we look upon a vacation or cashing our paychecks but most among us do understand the need to stay current or ahead of the game. Beyond this, training is one of those things that contribute directly to a sense of self-worth and confidence, which in turn drives morale, production and goes a long way toward establishing a culture of accomplishment and success. Training is critical way beyond the tasks we would learn or the information we would pick up. Training drives success but within a business or organization, it is only important if the leadership says it is and unfortunately leadership is often the cause of inadequate or nonexistent training plans. Great training demands great leadership.
In establishing the worth and importance of training I would note that there is good training and bad training and bad training is far worse than no training at all. At its heart, training needs to support our business or organizational goals and mission and is much more complicated than our standing in front of a group of students spouting facts and figures. Training at its core needs to have a training objective and training needs to be engaging and in some basic way connect with the tasks we take on every day.
Training is so critical, so important to the viability and success of any business or organization, it is a wonder that it is often handled with so little thought toward its scope, implication or impact. Maybe there are industries out there that are static and not seeing dramatic change in the ways we would go about doing business but I would have a hard time listing any of those types of businesses or organizations. From buying a cup of coffee to traveling, to ordering products and services on-line, we are living in a dynamic business environment and if it is nothing more than learning how to interact with customers on social media or accepting payment from on-line consumers, just to stay even with the competition in this environment is difficult and training is an important key. More and more Americans are avoiding the mall in buying the goods and services they need in their daily lives and if it is nothing more than teaching our people the technology that would allow us to survive in this market, training has to be an important part of our business plan and strategy going forward. If for no other reason than because our customers and end users are changing and making different demands upon us, training our people is a strategic necessity if we would hope to survive and thrive.
Many years ago, when I had as full a head of hair as the US Army would allow me and when my belly did not have a zip code of its own, I attended the noncommissioned officers academy in Ansbach, Germany. The primary focus of this course was developing leadership skills in young sergeants and would be sergeants. A strong secondary focus was training trainers. Too often we look at training as a distraction or “a necessary evil” and rarely approach it with the sense of urgency its impact and long term benefit would suggest. And then on top of what and the how of training, we are even worse when we are deciding on ‘who’ will do the training for us. You would almost think that training was torture and being a trainer a jail sentence. I am not generally seeing our high achievers guiding us into our organizational future; it is generally the guy who can’t make it to work on time or somebody from the back of the pack, not generally the brightest bulb in our box. With so much riding on our staying ahead of the learning curve and competitive, I am not sure why we trust our futures to the least accomplished among us. Many more than past accomplishments, a trainer has to have the ability and the desire to move people and the stubbornness to do this despite objections from both above and below. Much more than knowledge, the ability to engage our staff is key. If we do not have the right person now, my very strong suggestion would be to hire them. Training is that important!
Another mistake I run into frequently, particularly when we are training anything that would involve technology, is our taking on trainers that cannot relate to our staff. We get technicians who speak a completely different language and somehow expect that our staff, the men and women interacting with our customers every day are going to pick up or understand any of what this highly intelligent but otherwise unintelligible individual would spout in his efforts to train us. Trainers have to speak the language and relate to us in terms that we can understand. Being smart and knowledgeable is no guarantee that an individual can teach and if he cannot be understood, I would promise you that he will not be effective. There is a very good reason why teachers are licensed and why they have teaching degrees. If anyone could effectively do it, I am guessing they would. Trainers need to know how to train and all the technical knowledge in the world will not overcome this necessity.
Its 2011, the economy has not quite decided what it wants to do but business is at least okay and we have good prospects that we will be here tomorrow, next week and next month. A great way to ensure what happens beyond that and a great way to ensure that our vision for tomorrow becomes our reality is a great training plan delivered by great trainers.
"The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership."
-- Harvey S. Firestone
Great training is all about ROI and framing our future in competence.
About the author:
Brian Canning is a regular contributor to weLEAD and a business analyst working in the federal sector. For the past thirty years he has worked in the automotive repair industry, most recently as a leadership and management coach with the Automotive Training Institute in Savage, Maryland. After serving as a tank commander with the 1st Armored Division in Europe, he started his career as a Goodyear service manager in suburban Washington D.C., moving on to oversee several stores and later a sales region. He also has been a retail sales manager for a large auto parts distributor, run a large fleet operation and headed a large multi-state sales territory for an independent manufacturer of auto parts. His passions are history, leadership and writing.
*image courtesy of tungphoto/freedigitalphotos.net
I recently made the transition from a small service driven organization focused on staff training to a very large and diverse organization that seems to have forgotten about training. I find myself shocked on a daily basis when I see smart, hardworking people struggling to perform the tasks that make up their daily work life, in a broad organization that has not made the investment in training.Brian Canning Articles
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