(Photo above: Moe Carrick)
In the last five years, I have tortured my baby boomer brain to engage in technology in a way that matched the modern world. I now Tweet, use Facebook, LI, Google+, and Instagram. I have encountered an astounding plethora of content written and posted by colleagues and clients in our space (leadership, culture, strategy, and teams for organizations) and I have discovered something profound.
Most of what we are all saying is essentially the same.
Sure, the buzz words we all use are different and some talented people have done amazing jobs packaging and promoting their approaches in ways that make them infinitely digestible and practical for clients, but net-net, despite my own sense that what I/we do at Moementum is unique (we even call ourselves the “Un-Consultants”) at the core, it is not.
People are not machines. And cajoling their greatness in order to make a company or an organization or a healthcare system or a government work, takes a powerful potion of science, courage, art, and magic.
When I graduated with my master of science degree in 1989 (ouch where did those years go) the field or organizational development/behavior was still new, but clearly established. The post industrial revolution theorists like McGregor and Schein had profoundly pointed out that despite the advances that machines make in productivity, the people running the machines can really mess things up for the owners, shareholders and customers. On the other hand, when these same people create, innovate, dream, and heroically shine, these same companies stand to win, and to win big.
My eldest son in graduating in June with a degree in humanities for leadership at Seattle University, a brand new program whose educational mission teaches students “how to be discerning leaders, that is, leaders who know themselves, know their capacities, and know their limitations. By the end of their senior year, students have developed a deep and personal code of ethics that enables them to lead for the common good.”
I am both delighted and aghast that after more nearly half a century, we have not hard-wired this knowledge into the fiber of every workplace on earth.
I know that as human beings we need time to evolve and sometimes it takes millions of years. But the cycles of business and the global economy today demand that we integrate what we know about engaging the full capacity of human beings at work faster, more often, and more consistently.
The work happens in any organization or business, and if you are a leader or owner of a business, or head of an organization, I invite you to a few questions to ponder to do your part:
• Do you spend time and energy, often, thinking about the human beings who work for you and what they need to be fully “on” at work?
• Do you know yourself well enough to know when you impact others well or poorly, and are you willing to change to get greater results?
• Are you willing to be real as a means of drawing employees, customers, and partners towards you because they trust you?
• Do you fully appreciate the role the people who work for you play in your business’ success and do you share the glory with them?
• Have you practiced empathy with employees as they manage their own complex problems to create capacity?
As I surprise myself today looking at the legacy of my career rather than its on-ramp, I am impatient. We know what to do to grow vibrant systems where people really are the greatest assets and contribute fully. We each understand that work drives meaning for all of us, and that it is a gift to be able to employ others to help them feel that they matter. People are not machines, and their complexity, their feelings, their habits, their stubbornness, and their creativity are all required to make your company or organization brilliant.
Let’s start acting that way.