Monday, June 21, 2004

Individualise vs. Institutionalise

“The shape of our lives is defined by our insertion into institutions and systems whose interlocking power generates the "virtual reality" we experience. Such 'knowledge' is so thoroughly a part of our worldview that it simply would not occur to most people to question it. Yet underneath this reality is another, subinstitutional reality in which very different responses are simply acted out. This is the reality in which everyone, until very recently, lived.” - David Schwartz

When I begin working with an executive, a partnership forms. As I Shadow them through their day and routine I look for effectiveness, leadership and how they maintain their individuality within the organization. Leaders foster individual talents and encourage their staff to be unique and bring that uniqueness to the table to enhance the talent of the organization. In order for them to do that, they need to discover their hidden talents and strengths and learn how they compliment others’. That’s where I come in….translating newfound awareness of strengths, talents and skills into tangible change by choice.

In his book on Contrarian Leadership, Steven Sample speaks about leaders maintaining their intellectual independence by thinking in the gray zone, not black and white. Many in leadership roles need to learn how to be better listeners, for what’s spoken and the unspoken modes of communication. They are often too busy to take notice or, in too many cases discount anyone’s opinion but their own or that of the organization’s so why bother in the first place?

What struck me this morning as I was searching for a particular e-book I had seen in an online library I subscribe to, was there was next to nothing on communication (listening, speaking, effective communication) for executives. That is usually the first complaint from staff about their managers and superiors. They don’t listen. One can’t discover talents or ideas of staff without taking notice; listening to perspectives and ideas other than our own. It’s the very basic foundation of good leadership.

By helping your staff pull themselves forward to succeed, leaders need to stop running organizations and start fostering excellence in their direct reports. That is what will create organizational excellence and a strong, sound organizational future.

An organization of clones who don’t rock the boat will eventually disintegrate. Human beings are unique and need that feeling of individuality. Few will stay when they are not valued for who they are. What is an organization if not its people?

“We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have—for their usefulness.” - Thomas Merton

It’s time to turn that around.

A pot-stirring…
Donna Karlin

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