The idea of faith is often associated with theology. However, more broadly defined, faith means firmly believing in something that cannot be proved.
So how does faith play out in the workplace?
Merriam-Webster suggests that faith involves complete trust, without doubt or question. In viewing leadership from both a spiritual and secular perspective, perhaps the most powerful leaders today are those who convey confidence and inspire faith in those that they are responsible to.
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible”. ~ St. Thomas Aquinas
The leader/manager is accountable to satisfy many needs in an organization, and certainly in today’s challenging economy, business planning and execution would be near the top of any list of priorities. In part, organizational visioning processes create a foundation for strategic and tactical planning.
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People achieve great things when they see meaningfulness in a cause and see an opportunity for success. The truly difficult part for leaders is to enlist commitment from employees once the direction or path has been determined. The challenge is to create faith in the followers; to create belief, without question, that success is possible.
Five faith-inspiring maxims for leaders:
- People function at a higher level when they have some skin in the game. Strong leaders facilitate discovery of an internal connection (meaningfulness) to the vision – for themselves and others.
- Leaders are often seen as symbols of the organization. Integrity builds trust; trust confers believability. Leaders always function with unquestionable integrity.
- Celebrating the small successes can serve to reinforce belief in future larger successes. Faith and belief need to be ingrained in an organization’s culture.
- Stellar communication practices allow information to flow freely through an organization – in all directions. Leaders need to be exceptional communicators.
- Acknowledge concerns and encourage scepticism. Commitment to success is never well-served when disbelief and lack of faith are pushed underground.
It seems that we are increasingly becoming a faithless community. There is a pressing need to trade off belief for predictability and control. For example, consider the current popularity of quality control and improvement programs such as Six Sigma. It could be argued that these programs are necessary to quantify current performance, but that future potential can best be determined through faith in the unproven, and yet undiscovered, capability within the individual.
Can an organization’s power be increased by inspiring greater faith in the employees?
In your experience, how can the leader/manager effectively inspire faith?
Please share you thoughts on how you are creating a sense of “belief without seeing” in what you are doing. What are some of the challenges? What are some of the benefits that you have experienced when you actually had to step out in faith at work?
Paul Short is an independent OD and Change Professional.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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