“Making things better. Taking responsibility (without authority) and creating a positive cycle of generous action. Leading by example. Finding a small corner where you can make a difference, and then making a difference.” -Seth Godin
Leaders want to find and attract talent, align teams with strategy, get the most from their people, and create a great environment for people to thrive. Yet, employees are unhappy, burnt out, career transitioning, and feel disconnected. There seems to be a disconnect between the intent of leadership, and the people who make-up these organizations.
What is the problem?
I had conversations with with CEOs, founders, creatives, young professionals, small business owners, and people in career transition. There were common pain-points
- imposter syndrome
- low confidence
How does it feel?
How is the problem currently solved?
- I just ignore it.
- Push the thoughts down and keep going through my day.
- Distract myself with music or go to the gym or go to bars with friends.
- Try to meditate more frequently.
- Go on vacation.
- Talk to my therapist.
- To be where I am in life tells me I am just not as smart as I thought – so I accept the life I have.
- Go on retreats.
- Listen to motivational speakers.
What would your ideal solution look like?
- something new
- connect deeply with strangers
- meaningful connections
- creative conversations
- personal growth
- sense of self
What would make you more likely to use a solution?
- the thought possibility
- I already know you so I trust you enough to try
- opportunity for transformation
- fits my schedule
- meet new people
Why do the pain-points exist? What is the root-cause?
My hypothesis is that people have accepted a culture handed down to them. As a result, they exist in an organization that may not look and feel as if it were designed specifically for them. Culture change initiatives from leadership are issued to employees as new processes to “organically adopt” from the bottom-up. Felt as forced, the initiative is ineffective in returning on the financial investment and the people inside the company feel further disconnected.
Existing cultural diagnostic tools measure people against finances. They are built from a paradigm that exists to reward individual behavior. This further silos people and pits them against one another – both of which are not conducive to nurturing a healthy, collaborative workplace.
Organizational Change Journey
On the organization’s side, I mapped the existing journey of leader who is aware of organizational problems, is convinced of the financial benefit of “fixing the culture” and is ready to pay for a solution.
There’s clearly a lot going on in this mess. Rather than take on competitors in a crowded space, I felt inclined to scrap the old paradigm. Instead, offer human-first purpose-driven transformation.
It appears that organizational transformation starts with the leader adopting new operating principles for herself, and, in doing so, models the ideal behavior she hopes to cultivate in the culture.
- Ready to Answer
- Blames Teams
- Controls Information
- Blinded by Superpower
- Asks Questions
- Humility, Accountable
- Extreme ownership
- Starts with trust
- Vulnerable, Empathetic
- Aware of Kryptonite
What might this look like in an organization?
To lead others, lead yourself. It starts with you, the leader, looking inward, developing an adaptive mindset, opening yourself up to continuous learning, go out of your way to give credit at all times, and modeling what extreme ownership looks like.
Sense of Self
Get on a path of personal development and spiritual enlightenment. It does not start by deciding your organization is going to “change”. If you want to see change, change yourself.
Invest time in one-on-one conversations with the people in your organization. What are they going through? What are their values? Do they feel aligned with the company? Do they feel like they contribute to important decisions?
What would a conversation look like where you are co-creating the future together?
What would it look like for you to foster a culture of innovation that is safe, judgement-free, rewards collaboration more than individual metrics, quickly adopts microstructures to keep pace with unplanned activities, and makes people feel like they are connected with their peers and are an accurate reflection of the culture of the organization?
How might you provide on-going moments for your people to explore new experiences individually and as a team?
How might you create a safe space to facilitate deep, meaningful connection with one another? What would it look like for the people on your teams to feel the autonomy to create the experience for themselves?
Imagine an Ideal Workplace
Imagine a workplace where we focus on developing a sense of self, having autonomy, and aligning with one another to actualize our purpose in the work we do in the world.
A place where people are intrinsically motivated to give their blood, sweat, and tears because they have ownership and feel one with the company. A place where people connect deeply with their peers, where trust is developed and strengthened overtime, and people show up excited to be apart of an extraordinary movement.
I see a workplace where people intentionally cultivate superpowers like compassion, vulnerability, imagination, and empathy to elevate the collective consciousness, instigate cultural evolution, and move the world forward.
Superpowers like vulnerability and empathy are gifts a person receives from experiencing a moment of transformation. Humans thrive when they cultivate superpowers. These gifts continue to increase in demand as they are not available transactionally, and this makes them competitive advantages.
How might we design an experience for people to cultivate superpowers, actualize their best self, and surround themselves with inspiring people who want to see them grow?
What I am learning
In order to be customer-centered teams, we must have the capacity to act without ego and get out of our own way so customers feel safe bringing issues to us. To act without ego requires us to feel safe being ourselves and show up in our most authentic version. This requires organizations to foster collaborative performance metrics on projects only achievable through the collective act of a team. Teams become cohesive when there is an intentional culture of creative conversations, acknowledgement, and a safe space is created for discussing any tension that arises along the journey.
We feel similar pain-points across society. Regardless of role or position in the hierarchy, there is a common thread of feeling disconnected, purposeless, and alone. We implement processes and steps and when we impose these rigid structures on human beings, it is felt.
My individuality is what makes my human experience so special. Invite me to a place where I am expected to be myself. A place where we celebrate each of us being ourselves. A place where we celebrate being human.