We are living in bold times. Where what we imagine is no longer imaginary; it’s reality. With the speed of technology and constantly changing competitive landscapes, organizations need to be innovative, in front of trends and intimately involved with their customers. They need smart, emotionally intelligent, critical thinkers, who are passionate about what they do. Not afraid to take risks, fail and learn – Not afraid to challenge the status quo, not afraid to ask for change…
I hear leaders echo these sentiments, or at least some combination of them, yet they exist in companies that struggle to create the conditions necessary to retain the kind of talent they are looking for. Their culture is perfectly designed to behave the way it is behaving perfectly. And then, I hear leaders tell their organizations things like this:
“I’ve said it before we have a fantastic team, and I am truly impressed by the behavior, the dedication… We have a culture of honesty… I want to retain all those elements while creating conditions to improve…”
The Ugly Truth
Lipstick on a Donkey. Why is it so hard to be honest? If you want a company culture designed to attract, retain and grow smart, emotionally intelligent, critical thinkers who are passionate about what they do, then you need to treat them as smart, emotionally intelligent, critical thinkers, who passionately understand that shade of lipstick just isn’t working.
They also are not afraid of looking at the donkey without lipstick. They are not afraid to examine the culture, the beliefs, behaviors, habits and rituals… They want to change the conditions.
What do we mean by conditions?
These are choices we make about policy, process, organization design and talent that either make your desired company culture possible or make your desired culture impossible. It shapes how people in the organization lead, manage and work. It is the difference between a company positioned to grow and one that staggers and fails.
Imagine any one of these commonly talked about values below represents what you desire in your culture.
Now, ask yourself: What would need to be true in order for these values to exist? What are the obstacles that make living that culture impossible? What belief is behind the policy choice, process choice, or talent choice?
Now, let’s examine one.
What makes collaboration important in this culture? Why, where, when, how and who needs to collaborate? The Why is most important. You may discover that collaboration is not an enabler for success in the type of company you have. It may conflict with another value you have. Do you have systems and processes that support collaboration? Are you designed to work as teams? If not, do individuals have the similar priorities and objectives? Do they have enough shared interest to invest themselves in collaboration? Do you have talent in your organization that likes to collaborate, or is that profile non-existent? Does your talent have the skills to collaborate effectively? Do they have a healthy relationship with conflicting ideas?
I think you get where this is going. Take a value and get curious. Figure out what the implication is to how you lead, how you manage and how you work. Then, identify if this value really fits with what you are trying to do as a company. Does it enable you to achieve your strategy, or is it less important than something else?
Most of all, wipe off the lipstick.
My Name is on the Label: (My name is courage. My name is math whiz. My name is loser. My name is fat. My name is old. My name is strength.)
Let’s start with something simple: Math. For many years, math and science were the domain of men. Girls grew up believing they were not supposed to be good at Math. They were encouraged into Language Arts, Social Science and History. And this twentieth century cultural phenomenon created a generation of women who believe they have no aptitude for Math. The most important word here is “believe.” Because, we know the truth is that women can do Math!
I was that generation. Until 11th grade, I always received good grades in math. But, I grew up with the idea that I should be good at English, History and Social Science, not that I could be an engineer or a scientist or a mathematician. On the other hand, I also grew up with a mother who worked and broke barriers for women entering the workforce. So… I also believed I could have a career; I could be successful. Ultimately, I am happy with my career path. However, I can’t help but wonder how my generation contributed to the void in STEM careers for women.
We are influenced on many different levels to wear labels that shape who we are. Like the example above, there is a cultural/societal element. There is also family. And finally, there is our genetic blueprint. All of which create the complexity of who we are and the narrative in which we live.
Some of these labels we wear proudly and boldly; others work quietly in the background. They sometimes work together harmoniously, but often they undermine each other. They feed the voices of our inner critic. And they become the affirmations that foster our positive mental energy that allow us to move out of our comfort zones. The question we have to ask is: What labels are you living with today? How are they influencing your choices and decisions?
Are they stopping you from doing or being what you want to do or be?
Are they enabling you to defy your own expectations ?
About the author: Adrienne Seal is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Dragonfly Consultants. She is an ICF professional certified coach. She is known and appreciated for her insight into human nature and team dynamics and her thoughtfulness and innovative approaches to coaching, organization effectiveness and culture transformation.
Power and Poise: When you see a dragonfly in flight, one understands that power is not a force, but an energy that when used positively and in the possession of poise, gets results.
With leadership comes power. With power often comes distance, as if the energy of power is too formidable to touch or get close to.
I have worked with leaders who, with each promotion felt an ever-increasing distance with the people in their organizations. Their direct reports, once peers are now looking up, immediately experiencing that distance. Eventually they find themselves lonely at the top, with few they can confide in, even amongst their peers. The distance is palpable for both the leader and the organization.
In many organizations, this distance is per design. Based in the belief that one can-not lead without some professional distance in order to make objective and sometimes unpopular choices or decisions. It is so deeply held that it happens naturally.
My client, a recently promoted Vice President, explained it this way, “I walked out of my new office with a view of the city and the hallways became quieter. People I have known for years waited for me to talk to them. There was a different, more formal energy in the air. I suddenly realized I had power.”
Position power can be a heady experience. Left in the head, the ego can take over resulting in command and control behavior. These organizations create vacuums that suck the passion and inspiration out of their employees. Employees are powerless, and it becomes the role of the leader to empower them, again creating a reinforcement of ego involved position power.
But if we think of power as the energy that moves us forward, that wakes us up, it can shift the role of leadership. Power does not have to be formidable but instead can be a channel to energize not deplete or suck the life out of the organization. Poise, defined as the state of consciousness, awareness and calm that allows leaders to find their center of balance brings a new dimension to power and what it means as a leader. Power and Poise combined create a connection between the head, the heart, and the feet firmly on the ground. Wendy Palmer and Janet Crawford write in their book “Leadership Embodiment”, “This level of clarity and commitment springs from a unification and alignment of Head, Heart and Core that is represented in the synchronization of all aspects of motion, and deep desire to act on the behalf of others.”
When we work with clients on these concepts, we begin with helping our clients become comfortable with the word power. We have them explore what it means for them to be a leader, and what is at the core of what they stand for. It is the differentiation between thinking about what is expected of me as a leader, to who I am as a leader. It is the difference between being awarded power and possessing power. It is power emanating from the heart.
What does this mean for a leader and distance? My client the newly promoted VP, surprised by the cooler reception, became very clear about creating an organization of support. Focusing her leadership energy on building community, trust and strength. Understanding that her leadership is at the center, not the top. She shifted her energy to creating emotional connection, versus detached space. This expansive way of leading is no longer about status or level or position, but about a true and core belief that we are all in this together.
“Remember that poise and power are inseparably associated. The calm and balanced mind is the strong and great mind; the hurried and agitated mind is the weak one.” Wallace D Wattles
The role of the leader who possesses Power and Poise is to stay connected to purpose, be present and centered while creating energy to move forward with the company and creativity of others, have the humility to know that while they possess power, they do so with gratitude, and they do not take themselves so seriously that they lose sight of what is truly meaningful.
To Fly like a Dragonfly….
Dragonfly is proud to announce our partnership with Wiley Publishing as an Everything DiSC and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team authorized Partner and Certified Trainer.
If you’ve read the book The Five Behaviors of a Dysfunctional Team by Patrick Lencioni, you’ll be excited to know that they’ve partnered with Wiley to create an online assessment for the Five Behaviors, which is overlayed with Everything DiSC. If you’d like to be a FREE Beta customer for the Five Behaviors with your organization, contact us by March 13th.
As part of the Beta program, you’ll also receive Free Comparison Reports between team members and a Progress Report at a time determined best for your needs (i.e. halfway point, end of program).
Maiden, Mother, Wise Woman, Crone
Generational Stereotypes in the Workplace
Join us for an Interactive webinar “Between Women about Gender and Generational Stereotypes in the Workplace” on Nov 05, 2014 at 8:00 AM or Noon PST.
Register now! The first 50 people to Register AND Attend will be entered into our Prize drawing!
Noon Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3404472091275584513
Do you believe generational stereotypes serve a purpose?
- Explore why generational stereotypes are so pervasive
- Understand the impact on our business environments
- Explore the question “What is the relationship between gender, generational stereo-types and ageism?”
- Change the dialogue
- Walk away with a new perspective and new possibilities that will improve the effectiveness of your organization
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. View System Requirements
Accelerating Results through Designing & Reshaping Company Cultures
A Dragonfly navigates the complexities of life with “open eyes” continuously demonstrating strength, perseverance, and focus. This awe inspiring aspect is how the dragonfly accomplishes its movement with utmost simplicity and effectiveness – this is at the core of how we work.