Over the years I have had many conversations with people about the workings of life. Things like life in general, relationships, work, politics, the state of the economy, sport, business, international conflict, etc. The conversations that I find most intriguing are with the ones that are good at finger pointing and complaining about the behaviours and actions of others. They tend to have very strong and narrow minded opinions i.e. how parents should be raising their children, how teenagers should behave, how politicians should spend our money, how people should be punished and the list goes on. They are generally good at telling others how the world SHOULD be run and how people SHOULD think, feel, behave and act accordingly.
Yet more often than not, they are the people who display the very behaviours and qualities that they are critical of in others. They are fighting fire with fire!
I often like to challenge them with the question … “In what way is the way you behave different to that of the people and groups that you are criticising?” To which many respond by defending and justifying their position!
I also see this behaviour in the world of business. Organisations look for ways to keep up with the ever increasing speed and complexity of change and to maintain their competitiveness. So they try to change their cultures and the behaviours of their people. They review and come up with new values that the organisation should operate by to make that happen. Then the following occurs, and I have seen this take place. Management instructs the human resources, training or organizational development department to bring about this change. To INSTALL the chosen values into their frontline personnel. To tell those front line troops to be Happy Little Chappies and demonstrate resilience, flexibility, creativity, innovation, collaboration, teamwork, commitment, respect, to serve, honesty and the list goes on.
Yet when management is asked what they are doing to display the new values they get uncomfortable and pointing the attention away. It’s about ‘them, the staff’ not us. What they are missing when it comes to organisational culture … it is meant to be ONE culture, it’s a collective! It is not one for management and another for the rest of the staff. Especially if both cultures are incompatible and moving in opposite directions.
Values are not the words written on the wall. Behaviour is telling what they are!
I once asked a client what their organisational values were. To which they replied, with a searching mind … “I just read them the other day”!
The values of an organisation are not the words written on the wall. Values show up in behaviour. If creativity and innovation are key values yet staff is discouraged or ignored when voicing their ideas than creativity and innovation are NOT the driving values. Discouragement and ignorance are!
The bottom line with values is not the value itself but for what purpose you want them. What is the value in the value? That should make your head spin. Let’s look from this perspective, values are only words, and words have no meaning other than the meaning that we give them, the trueness and usefulness of that meaning. For new organizational values to impact on the effectiveness of the business their meaning must be embodied in the culture. Now that doesn’t necessarily happen by default, especially if it is a big shift or if the shift is not aligned with the individual values of employees.
Showing the way by going ‘there’ first!
“Become the change you want to see!” Ghandi
So how do you bring your people along on the ride and adapt new values? It begins with you and your leadership. It begins with Ghandi’s ‘Become the change you want to see! I love this quote. Whatever you want to create and what you want to see changed in others, you go there first! If it is an attitude, a behaviour, a quality, a way of relating or a way of doing things … show the way, go there first!
If you want to create peacefulness in the world, be peaceful! If you want to create kindness in the world, be kind! If you want to create respect in your world, be respectful!
Don’t change people! Create environments where people want to come along for the ride!
If establishing a Creative and Innovative Culture is of importance to the sustainability of your operation then ask yourself … what environment you want to create for creativity and innovation to occur. What does creativity and innovation imply? What stimulates and drives a creative and innovative mind? What allows the mind to come up with new visions, fresh ideas and insights? It’s a mind that has clarity and that focuses on possibility. That is curious, playful and observant with the absence of judgment. Mix that with a collaborative and collective spirit and you have a very potent force at your disposal.
The idea here is that you don’t have to change people. Treat people as they already have all the resources and qualities they need. They already know how to be curious, playful and observant. They already know how to collaborate and think as a collective.
Your job as the leader is to create a space where your people bring forth their inner resources and qualities. Where they want to come along for the ride!
Here is my challenge for you!
This is what I want you to do. Pick an area in your work, that involves other people, where things are not travelling as well as you would like. And for the next working week, if you are not already, show up with a curious mind when you engage and communicate with your staff, colleagues and your clients. Listen to them with nothing on your mind. Just be there and observe. Hold their space. Do this playfully. And by that I mean just have fun with this exercise and enjoy the learning.
At the end of that week email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me little about your experience with this exercise and also ask any question that you may have.
Remember, leading change begins with going first!
If that resonates with you and you want to learn more about leading change by going first and tapping into their collective wisdom of your people read on. If not, I like to thank you and I look forward to serving you with my next reflection!
to your best
About Mike Schwarzer
Mike is a Transformation Professional and an Internationally Certified Trainer in Applied Neuro Synergy & NLP with the Global Association of Applied Neuro Synergy, GAANS. An experienced facilitator and coach, with an ability to connect and align people, he helps leaders and organisations to solve the problems that they have not been able to solve elsewhere and create the results they want to achieve.