Archive for October, 2008

Changes in Thinking

When an organization has not thought about it’s own unity or the benefits of unity, it’s thinking is more about the way things are and it’s likely destiny on that path rather than how it could be if unity was established. For these organizations the most important action is convincing participants that a transformation is both possible and worthwhile.

After an organization has gone through a coaching program designed to help them think about unity, the exploration of new possibilities becomes a reality. Instead of wondering about results, the benefits become obvious.

The style of thinking changes in two ways.

1) For leaders, when holding others responsible, the change is towards a global self-accountability and effectively communicating to enhance learning. In other words, everyone learns to think in terms of “what could I have done that would have made the result better?” rather than, “why did someone else make that mistake?”. The questions we might ask include “How can I take the learning from the current situation and apply it to future situations?” “What might I do to more quickly act on negative emotions and energy to move forward and re-inforce positive learning?”, “What could I have done to help improve on the areas where the deficiency or failure occured?”

It is about learning to see that when others make errors, that there is still a certain truth in their understanding of the situation and only by taking that into account can the whole truth can be determined.

For example, we may see a person underperforming or missing a deadline. We may have a negative gut feeling toward the situation but if we act on it without first examining it carefully, we will only bring defensiveness from the individual involved.

If, instead, we look at our own role in the situation, we will determine that we also contributed. Perhaps we didn’t ensure that the item was on-track (i.e. abnegation vs. delegation) or perhaps we didn’t ensure that the combination of skill, challenge, motivation, communication, tracking, understanding and tools were adequate to the job. Our learning, if we are honest, is that we also contributed to the result in one form or another and that we will get better results if we address the issue, rather than blame the person. As leaders or influencers, we will always do better if we hold ourselves accountable first.

2) The thinking in a unified organization goes much deeper than just the leadership level. Leaders learn how to instill a different level of thinking in the staff.

The concept of Organizational Unity relies on a fundamental change in the thinking of each individual, and ultimately, one at a time, we each contribute to changing the whole organization. The thinking that each leader must learn to share is this, that each time we execute a job, even if we do less than perfect, it never speaks to inadequacy, rather to our acceptance of who and where we are at that moment of our lives and a fundamental belief that the rest of our life is always an opportunity to learn and progress. It is not about blaming others or defending ourselves. Rather, we understand that given our current state of mind, physical condition, skill, motivation and training, we have done the best that we could have done and that we always have the choice and opportunity to strive to do better. 

For example, if someone is late in deliverying they may have felt very little motivation, or they may have been under stress and not thinking clearly about the task, or they may have been unclear about instructions and expected outcome. In each case, they have acted with the resources available to them and come up short. This doesn’t mean that they are to be blamed either by themselves or by others. It means only that the actions taken have not met the anticipated result. As they learn to accept ultimately responsibity for improving each area in their own life they see positive opportunity and growth.

In some cases, a poor result may also mean that the individual is not in a position, at that moment, to execute the role adequately. In such cases, for the good of the individual and the organization, they may need to moved to a position that will better benefit them and the organization and be replaced with someone who is better prepared. In a unified learning environment, this never speaks negatively to the underlying worth as a human beings. It only encourages us to accept where we are and to strive and prepare for meeting future challenges. As we learn to accept consequenses of our actions, both negative and positive, and the input that others provide, we learn that each has some validity and value.

It requires us to learn how to filter the valuable information from the emotion and to recognize that each leader and contributor is also on a path of learning. Some communicate more effectively than others and we can help them to learn how to communicate with us by thanking them when their communications are helpful and calmly sharing with them when it is not. We have a responsibility to teach others how to communicate with us. We can also accept that life is not an exact science and that some leaders judge more effectively than others. Each provides us an opportunity to work on our own skills and attributes.

As we begin to view life as a continuous opportunity to learn and grow, our stress about the judgement of others is reduced and we learn how to gain from every action and interaction.

As these ways of thinking filter through the organization, the organization and its members contribute to a more positive environment for learning and improving. As each individual improves in their own skills, as the methods of communication improve, the organizational results also improve. As leaders begin to see a new environment of growth and contribution, they are also able to think about a brighter future.

Comments off