On Leadership, Employee Morale and The Joy of Ketchup

The Joy of Ketchup

My father has always been a picky eater. He doesn’t like bold flavors at all, so we did not have the joy of trying different foods as kids. He liked things to be overcooked and unfortunately for us, that meant the rest of us had to eat our dinners that way too.

He would cook steaks so well that they were tough to chew. I didn’t know how good a steak could be because ours were tough and burned.

The Joy of Ketchup

Ketchup is a wonderful invention. It was created to enhance the flavor quality of certain foods, but wasn’t ever intended to be used with every item on your plate. But in our house, it was a necessity!

The only way to make some of Dad’s overcooked food palatable was to cover it with ketchup.

We put it on overcooked steak, mashed potatoes, and even the plain white rice he would cook! What was intended to be an enhancement to the dinner experience became a necessity in order to hide the underlying fact that the food was terrible.

The Ketchup of the Workplace

There once was a company called Lomo Ralé Inc. The culture was very fragmented at there:

  • Departments worked in silos
  • Management dictated decisions rather than collaborating with employees
  • The people were both over-worked and under-equipped
  • The environment was a stressful place for employees

As a result of these conditions, employees only gave the effort that they were required to give. There was no reason to give any extra effort. For most of the frontline employees at Lomo Ralé, the company seemed to drain the life out of them.

Then the CEO had read an expert’s book about what incentive awards could do to morale in the office. She gathered her executive team together and came up with a program that would allow the employees to take short breaks in order to to play games and also provide them with plaques and other awards for strong performance.

She was convinced that this would fix the morale issue.

Short Shelf Life

The program was implemented quickly and there was an immediate boost to energy level in the office. Employees smiled more and seemed to actually enjoy themselves. That feeling slowly faded over time because the games and awards didn’t change the underlying work conditions.

Employees still did not feel like the managers had their best interests in mind. Decisions were still dictated downward. The “steak” of the company was still overcooked. The “ketchup” that management had thrown on top was only a mask for what was really underneath.

Cooking a Better Steak

The situation at Lomo Ralé is an all-to-common occurrence.  Managers throw a bunch of “ketchup” on top of a burnt “steak” and wonder why the best people in the organization leave.

For sustained performance, leaders have to cook a better steak – they have to provide a better environment for their people.

Turning Around a Culture

As John Maxwell said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” It’s up to you to make the change for your people, no matter where you are in the organization.

Here are some tips for turning around the culture of your organization.

  1. Value your people. People don’t leave organizations, they leave companies because of people. Be the leader that they know you value them. Spend time with your people. Learn about their personal lives (within reason, of course). Stand up for them if they have a suggestion for an improved process. Be their champion and they will champion you. Nothing keeps a stressed group of people together better than people they know value them.
  2. Include your people in the change. Have discussionswith your people to find out what they would do to improve productivity and morale. Take the best of their ideas and do everything in your power to make them happen. Recognize them for their contributions. If they see that they can make a difference, they will want to continue making a difference.
  3. Develop your people. Not many people want to be stuck without hope of improving. Be a proponent of additional training, special projects, and other ways to help your people develop. Their improvement will only boost the team’s capabilities.

So how much ketchup have your employees been putting on what you have been serving up? Have you known that your cooking might be up to par? What can you do to change the recipe of your leadership so that people start loving what you serve? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Rich Bishop

Rich Bishop is President of Bishop Coaching & Consulting Group
He takes a hands-on approach to your Development through Coaching & Training
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On Leadership, Change and East African Wildebeest

Wildebeests

Like a wildebeest in East Africa, successful leaders must dare to change.

Great Wildebeest Migration

The spectacular wildebeest migration in East Africa has been touted as one of the seven new wonders of the world. Between July and October every year, up to a million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and cross the border into the Masaai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

In the Masaai Mara, the wildebeest have to cross the Mara river – sometimes several times – to get to lush plains on the other side of the river. Each year as they plunge across the river, many thousands drown or are killed by crocodiles lurking in the murky waters.

The wildebeest that survive the crossing make their way to the plains, where they are stalked and hunted down by lions, cheetahs and leopards.

Why Take the Risk?

Anyone unfamiliar with this phenomenon might wonder why the animals take a journey that is fraught with so much danger. Well, the migration follows change in the feeding habitat of the wildebeest, so the animals have to move from the South to the North where they can find adequate grazing and water.

Let’s consider their options.

  • Should they ‘choose’ to remain in the Serengeti and not migrate, the pasture will be insufficient to sustain all their numbers throughout the year. And any that survive will be weak and become easy prey for predators.
  • On the other hand, making the journey to the Mara exposes them to possible death – and thousands die annually along the way. The animals that survive however find adequate pasture and water to keep them alive.

Theirs is a world where, to borrow the words of Randall White, Phillip Hodgson and Stuart Crainer in ‘The Future of Leadership’ the wildebeest “…have to change to survive; and, paradoxically, where the very act of change increases the risk that (they) won’t survive.”

It is a world of risk and opportunity; potential loss and gain. In short, one where change is absolutely necessary, and yet takes great courage.

So, what lessons can we draw from these animals, as we consider our options in life?

Lessons for Life and Business

1) Recognize the Need to Change

Whether you’re leading a team, running an organization – business or otherwise – or working on a personal project, you know that change is imminent.

Resources run out, people working with you change or move on, the external environment changes.

Therefore, as you make progress in your chosen undertaking, put in place contingency plans to help you stay on course when the inevitable changes occur. Don’t be caught unawares and therefore become a victim.

2) Take Action

When it’s time to take the next step, follow through without backtracking. In the wildebeest migration, the dangers are real – the ranging waters of the Mara, and the crocodiles in them.

But the herds cross anyway.

When you take up a leadership position, know full well that you will be leading your followers to unchartered territories and face success or failure by taking risks. In so doing, you raise yourself to scrutiny, judgment and criticism. Face the fear and do it anyway.

Alternatively, you invest your money in a project with a high probability of either success or failure. If you’ve done due diligence up to this point and have no compelling reason to hold back any longer, proceed with your planned course of action.

3) Don’t Relax

Some people taste success and then relax, struck by the deadly “destination disease.” Even after the wildebeest reach the Mara plains, they still face predators. Some cows lose their young calves and decide to go back through the waters and along the tracks to look for them.

Away from the big herds, they become easy prey for predators and often don’t survive attacks. The journey is not over. Likewise in life and business, one failure or victory does not mark the end of the journey.

Rather, it prepares you for the next section of the trip that you must continue on. Take too much time lamenting a failure or celebrating a success and you become discouraged or complacent, unable to take the next step. So, whatever happens, don’t lose sight of the journey ahead. In the words of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela:

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

Keep climbing. Keep changing. Keep growing.

Bonus – Fun fact

“Wildebeest calves gain their feet faster than the young of any other ungulate.” – Jonathan Scott’s Safari Guide to East African Animals. They stand within two to five minutes of birthing, and can run with the herd shortly thereafter – even outrunning a lioness!

What changes do you need to make in your personal or professional life? What is the next step in the plan and when will you take it? How will you handle potential setbacks brought about by either failure (discouragement) or success (complacency)?

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——————–
Joyce Kaduki

Mrs. Joyce Kaduki is a Leadership Coach, Speaker & Trainer
She enjoys working with Individuals & Teams to help them Improve their Results
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How Leaders Contribute to Workplace Conflict and How to Fix It

Workplace Conflict

Leaders can inadvertently derail productivity and innovation through their design of organizational systems.  Structural conflicts between people and departments are often one of the unintended consequences of this.

And leaders are the only ones with authority to do something about it.

Poor Leadership

According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workforce report, poor management is responsible for the 20% actively disengaged employees. This costs the U.S. $450 to $550 billion annually. Conversely, Gallup found that the most engaged employees (30% of the workforce)—those with the best management—create the most innovative ideas, attract new customers and are the most entrepreneurial.

A study identified common patterns of behaviors that characterize a bad boss which can be summarized as poor social and people skills.

Leaders must promote people with excellent “soft” skills because these lead to engaged employees who produce hard results.

Employees resent it when poor performance or bad management is not adequately addressed. Their motivation goes down and soon they do barely enough to meet expectations.

People inherently ask:

 

  • Why give 110% when someone giving only 80% or less can get away with it?
  • Why share their most creative ideas when the immediate supervisor takes the credit or doesn’t want change?
  • Why buck the system if the potential for harm is greater than the potential for gain?

Performance Management Systems

While most performance management systems are structured correctly, executing them is a hit or miss proposition in many organizations.

  • Some managers are plain uncomfortable with giving performance feedback.
  • Well-intentioned senior leaders, expecting their managers to deal with performance issues, only want to see “meets or exceeds” on appraisals.
  • This causes managers to avoid checking the “needs improvement or does not meet” box, fearing it could negatively affect their career or end-of-year bonus for their unit.

Leaders should hold their managers accountable for dealing with poor performers and reward them when they do. And yes, inadequate people skills in a manager constitutes poor performance and it should be addressed.

Competing Reporting Relationships

You see this with cross-functional project teams. Often people on such teams report to a division manager but work under a different project manager. Conflicts can erupt between the two managers who are both vying for the same resource: the employee’s time.

The employee may end up in conflict with either manager due to competing priorities.

Team members may end up at cross purposes because of lack of clarity about goals and time commitments.

Establish a matrix style reporting structure for cross-functional teams. Clarify expectations and priorities regarding specific deliverables, time to work on the project, and reporting relationships.

Unclear or Overlapping Roles and Responsibilities

This type of situation can create bad feelings between employees, turning a simple-to-solve structural conflict into an interpersonal one. These are territorial conflicts as in, “Hey, that’s my job.

It can leave employees worrying about whether management thinks they can’t do the job, or has plans to downsize. Another conflict related to unclear roles is when tasks fall through the cracks and blame starts flying.

Fortunately though, unclear roles and responsibilities are a common problem and relatively easy to solve.

Reward and Recognition Systems

Individuals need to know that their contributions matter. If they work independently and don’t rely on co-workers for information, resources or idea generation, then an individual reward and recognition system is best. If results require teamwork, a team incentive is also necessary.

A good ratio is to create an incentive that gives 2/3 for individual contributions and 1/3 for teamwork.

Without an individual incentive, some people might coast and ride the coattails of their team mates, creating resentment. Not including a team incentive when you need team creativity and problem solving, could create unproductive competition among individuals.

In addition to company-wide bonuses, consider including localized recognition events and rewards. These can be low-cost but personalization is a powerful motivator.

Of course, the best reward of all comes from allowing employees to identify and solve problems and develop innovations. Tapping into intrinsic motivation is the most powerful of all.

Communication Systems

The structural side of organizational communication systems has to do with how easy it is for employees to communicate with people and decision-makers across units. The more silo-ed and hierarchical the communications are, the more difficult it will be for employees to collaborate and exchange critical information.

The conflicts resulting from an inability to communicate effectively across organizational boundaries usually have to do with unintended consequences of changes made in one part of the organization that have a negative impact on another.

Another type of conflict occurs when work units have different norms and rules about how, when and to whom to communicate. Misinterpretations, misunderstandings and missed communication—all can erupt into conflict unless someone catches them early and deals with them.

Design formal communications to facilitate employees’ ability to work together effectively.

One simple tool for extremely effective weekly communication is something called 15Five.

Be Wise

Entire books have been written about each of the categories above. Clearly, much more could be said.  The key is to assess how organizational structures might be contributing to employee conflicts and make adjustments.

What would you do to mitigate against the unintended consequences of structure conflicts?

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——————–

Jagoda Perich-Anderson, M.A.

Jagoda Perich-Anderson, M.A. is President of JPA TANGO
She helps leaders harness the power of conflict to build innovative solutions
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On Leadership, Effectiveness and Succession Planning

Succession Planning

When we explore the role of leadership, its application, expectation and outcomes, we find a number of interesting and interrelated functions to which all leaders should aspire if they wish to move from good to great.

These functions can be from the leaders themselves or from those who have direct or indirect influence with them.

What’s a Leaders Role?

If you ask leaders what they think that their role is, you are likely to receive a host of very different and even complex answers.

And although leadership is generally regarded by many as setting the strategic direction of group or organisation, there is another often-overlooked component that is one of the hallmarks of truly effective leadership.

This is something called “succession planning.”

Succession planning is an element of leadership that eludes a great number of organisations, both large and small. And is often only considered when someone is about to leave an organisation.

This happens whether or not it is a job that the person in question has been doing for some time.

So Somebody Leaves…

When somebody important leaves their position at most organizations, oftentimes the panic button is pressed and something of a scramble ensues to see who can fill the shoes of the incumbent. There is seldom any long-term thought or planning that precedes this hive of reactive activity.

There is no prudent and carefully thought-out change management plan that seeks to make the transition from “what was” to “what is” as seamless as possible.

This is true whether it be for the people within the organisation, or other important people outside of the organization.

Often, there is no one being mindful to inform partnership agencies or clients who would benefit from knowing that their preferred or hitherto single point-of-contact within that organisation is about to move on to new pastures.  And little assurance is ever given as well to the fact that they will soon be contacted by their highly trained and equally capable replacement.

The Sad Reality

Such things are rarely mentioned in some organisations. The preferred method of managing such departures seems to be that of the “suck-it-and-see” approach or the all too common “fingers-crossed and hope for the best” method of administration.

  • How often have you worked for an organisation that has sought to identify its future leaders through a well structured and comprehensive ‘talent management programme’?
  • Whether it is through training, mentoring, coaching or continuous professional development.
  • Add to that the number of leaders who are comfortable with the idea of training their potential future replacement.

For most people it is likely that the answers to these questions are: no, and one or two at best.

It is certainly not the wholesale approach to leadership that an overwhelming number of organisations and or leaders share.

The Leadership Process

As previously stated, leadership is a multifaceted and multi-layered process, one that can produce tangible results if leaders choose to embrace a number fundamental truths.

One of which is that in order to establish a robust and consistent method of organisational development there needs to be a comprehensive and visible method of talent management, one that demonstrates the importance of succession planning and actively promotes the legacy of a well prepared and forward thinking organisation.

Questions:

• What is succession planning?
• Identify some of the benefits that exist for an organisation that embraces succession planning?
• Why do effective leaders embrace succession planning?

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————
John Babb

John Babb is the author of “The Phoenix Leadership Programme”
He facilitates comprehensive and Bespoke Leadership Mentoring Programmes
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web

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Improve Your Team by Developing the HERO Inside You!

Be the Hero

Real heroes don’t really wear capes or have supernatural powers. In the real world, HERO’s are simply ordinary people who choose to respond to a set of circumstances in a way that inspires others. And it IS possible to develop the HERO inside you.

But before you can lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself.

That’s how you develop into a HERO.

The Hero Inside

There are battles inside you that go on every day, and those battles are the reason that you haven’t accomplished as much as you promised yourself you would back on New Year’s Eve. Internally, there is a part of you – a HERO – that wants to succeed and has strong values and great ideas and when you wake up it is your best self that is energized and bold and determined.

Friedrich Nietzsche called it the Übermensch. The term, loosely translated, means “superhuman.”

But your best self, your internal hero, has enemies…

  • Every day your HERO has to wage a battle against distractions, and disappointment, and disparagement.
  • Every day he has to struggle with ghosts of regret or monsters of misfortune.
  • Our history, things that happened in the past.
  • And our experiences, things that happen to us and around us, can sometimes seem devastating.

Fighting Your Battles

Imagine being a recently divorced woman, caring for a 3-month old daughter, forced to go on welfare after losing her job. Those would be hard battles to fight! And even though those circumstances and experiences are dangerous adversaries, they are not as powerful or impactful as our internal response to them.

If we respond poorly, we experience more painful outcomes. We become victims of our own negative responses. 

People, and teams, are not victims of circumstances. They only feel this way when they do not develop and use the HERO within them.

Winning the Battles Within

Too often our internal HERO’s greatest threat is our own fear, or contentment, or excuses, or doubts… those deceitful soldiers that protect the walls of our comfort zone.  And it is amazing what sometimes we can allow ourselves to grow comfortable with.

But if you want to develop the HERO within you and accomplish your ambitious goals, you have to:

  • Exile your excuses
  • Dump your doubts
  • Crash through that comfort zone that has caged you

The HERO Formula

So, what separates the average man from Nietzsche’s Übermensch?

The answer is a simple equation.  H + E x R = O

History + Events x Response = Outcomes

We cannot control our history… or the events that occur to and around us. But we CAN control our RESPONSE to them. And no matter what the first parts of the equation are, OUR RESPONSE DETERMINES THE OUTCOME!

To get something different, to feel something different, to become something different, you will have RESPOND differently!

I offer team building for teachers, for athletes, and for corporate groups that inspire unity and boost morale, but the key to any group’s improvement is each individual within the group claiming responsibility for their response to the history and events around them.

The HERO Attitude

Remember that single mother we imagined above? Well that was J K Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series.  She developed her HERO because she decided to choose a positive response to her circumstances.

We cannot control our circumstances.  But we can control our responses. Regardless of the circumstance, we get to choose our attitude and our actions. We can develop a victim attitude and spiral down, or the kind that J K Rowling did and ascend far beyond expectations.

And if you keep a good attitude and take appropriate action consistently, those habits will lead you to accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself.

But your focus must be on changing the equation with a quality response. The world is not going to change  and we remain victims as long as we are waiting on someone or something else to change for us.

Becoming a HERO

So, how does one become a HERO? Commit to responding to your history and your experiences as your best self. Remember, you cannot choose where you were planted – but you CAN choose to bloom there.

Want to improve your organization and inspire team development? Want to improve your family?  Your community? Your workplace? Then develop the HERO inside you. Your example and responses WILL impact others. Whatever your history or experiences, your response to the events you experience will determine your teams success.

So how are you responding to your past and current situations in life, at work, and in your community? Are you mentally stuck in the past and still paying a heavy price? If so, WHY? What steps can you take today to reprogram your responses so that you can get those superhuman results and lets the HERO soar? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Sean Glaze

Sean Glaze is Speaker, Author, Coach, and Facilitator at Great Results Teambuilding
He delivers Engaging Events that Transform Laughter into Lessons
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On Leadership, Communication and Your Email Address

Communication

If you make a list of your pet peeves about work, I bet high on the list are, being kept in the dark, being patronised, and being misinformed.

Contrary to this type of workplace environment, healthy and successful organisations communicate as transparently as they can and keep secrets only as long as is absolutely necessary.

Great delivery also depends upon great communication, which should start at the top.” ~ Sir Richard Branson

Misunderstanding Communication

Talk to many leaders about communication and they think about, “how can I get my message out to the staff?” This is a symptom of how they perceive their relationship with their followers. They are in charge, they’re paid the big bucks to create the vision and strategy and they make all the important decisions.

Consequently they see communication as top-down delivery of their important information which should be understood and acted on in proscribed ways. This “information” is generally perceived by the recipient as poorly cloaked instruction and coercion intended to drive the company’s agenda.

In doing this leaders miss the purpose and full power of authentically open integrated communication entirely.

A Two-Way Street

Communication is at its simplest a two-way interaction but more often than not (and often unintentionally) is multi-directional.

On the one hand, your response to a message from your boss might be restricted to your own thoughts. On the other, you discuss the matter with a colleague who in turn talks to another and so on, with the inevitable distortion created by the rumour mill.

As is the case with the physical conservation of energy, human communications can never be destroyed, they are simply converted into other forms of communication often with unforeseen, unwanted and uncontrollable consequences.

Transparent Communication

Victor S. Sohmen (Drexel University) clearly explains the fundamental role of transparent communication in his paper “Leadership and Teamwork: Two Sides of the Same Coin” in the Journal of IT and Economic Development.

Ask yourself this:

  • If all communications are multidimensional, are never truly secret and you can never learn less from them, why not take full advantage of its power for good?
  • Why not give out your e-mail address to everyone and invite them to use it?

Create equally powerful multiple well-integrated lines of communication bottom to top as well as top to bottom in your organisation. The rest is about building flexible yet robust systems to manage information flow and integration.

Open Authentic Communication

In an excellent article “Relationship between Organizational Culture, Leadership Behavior and Job Satisfaction”, Yafang Tsai clearly describes the fundamental foundation of open authentic communication to building high performing organisational cultures.

Imagine a scenario where the brother of someone who cleans the toilets knows someone who is the father of a genius kid who has recently invented a new widget which could revolutionise your business. If you always excluded that cleaner from contributing their ideas they’ll cease to bother and you will lose out. If that sort of communication disconnect is a cultural norm in your organisation, then you are in trouble.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” ~ Peter Drucker

Best-Centered Communication

I am convinced most leaders are well-meaning and attempt to improve communication, but their efforts are generally self-centered and inevitably come across as patronising and back fire disappointingly. A good rule of thumb is to “ask” twice as many times as you “tell”.

As Vincent van Gogh said, “It is the little emotions that are the great captains of our lives.”

If we know that day-to-day we’re really heard, truthfully informed and treated as adults we feel valued, are more internally motivated and are much more likely to identify with our place of work and go that extra mile for the team.

Too many organisations feel that incentives will drive staff to behave like the 300 Spartans who laid down their lives at the battle of Thermopylae in an attempt to drive back invading Persians; THEY WON’T! But if they feel they can influence the future of their organisations THEY JUST MIGHT!

Closing Thoughts

Ask yourself these questions today:

  • Do you feel communicating with staff is a chore or a key element of business?
  • Did you communicate to your staff today? If your answer is “no”, why didn’t you?
  • What information did you send out today, to what extent might it be viewed by the recipient as patronising, opaque or misleading?
  • What open questions did you ask your staff?
  • Who has your e-mail and phone number; why them?

Make a brief cost/benefit analysis if you opened up your lines of communication.

A really good place to find your voice is “Leading Out Loud: A Guide for Engaging Others in Creating the Future by Terry Pearce.

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——————–
 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Hey Leader: Become an Organizational Life Giver

Triangle

Are your goals actually YOUR goals? Since the development of organizational strategic planning became a standard operating practice, organizations have set goals toward which they strive and around which they base decision-making.

Goals serve several purposes. Goals:

  • Defines future direction
  • Provides a tool for measuring success
  • Prioritizes resources
  • Aligns the collective efforts of the organization

Goals are essential to the success of any organization. So it makes sense to have them to help teams get their jobs done. But sometimes the very best intentions around setting and implementing goals end up causing unintended problems.

Un-Goals

Does this scenario sound familiar?

The senior leadership team in your organization holds a strategic planning day, usually off site, and your Director comes back with a new set of strategic priorities and a renewed enthusiasm for the great things the organization will accomplish at the completion of this new plan.

Now the task falls to each department to come up with their departmental goals that fit within the plan. You and your colleagues spend a few sessions brainstorming, defining and prioritizing goals to set the direction for your department. The team is motivated and energized and embarks on the journey to accomplish the ambitious goals.

At some point your department hits a road block and has to compete for the resources to continue.

What started as an execution of well-intentioned, well-thought-out plans becomes a frustrating power struggle between departments with competing priorities.

The relationships between departments breakdown and silos develop.

The Shape of Organizational Health

Picture the hierarchy in your mind. What shape is it? Probably a triangle, most are.

The fewest people at the top hold the most power. All of the weight of the organization rests on the shoulders of the people at the bottom. They give life to the mission. They are the first to know when something isn’t working and they are the first to know how to fix it. Yet, getting that knowledge to the top of the triangle is like swimming upstream.

Flip the triangle on its head and it resembles a filter. Now the power is at the bottom of the triangle, supporting the people with the knowledge, the skills, and the direct access to customers. Imagine that valuable knowledge flowing easily down through the filter to inform strategic decision-making.

Then those decisions conform to the reality and the knowledge from the “life-givers”, rather than the employees fitting into a mold that may not be what’s best for the company.

How could the triangle be flipped? Who are the “make it happen” people? Has your company struggled to implement something that front line people resist? Where are the voices of the “life-givers” heard? Where are they not heard? I would love to hear your thought!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Jacqueline De Leebeeck

Jacqueline De Leebeeck is founding partner of Savvy
She facilitates leadership capacity building and team development
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