The Ascending Organization
We seem to be increasingly disillusioned by organizational life.
The question I often asked myself is simply “Why” ? Why is work even source of so much suffering ? If not suffering, disengagement ? Why could the corporate world not be a place of fulfillment ? Of expression ? Creativity ? What does prevent it ? What needs to be changed or transformed ?
Clearly, if we look at the corporate world today, we can only be saddened by the many issues we face in our organizational lives: lack of engagement, dis-empowerment, analysis paralysis and slow decision making, unproductive meetings, lack of accountability, lack of care when things go wrong, fear, alignment issues and politics, communication issues, …
Consequently, when innovation programs or change management programs get initiated on top of such an infertile soil, no surprise that studies out there show that 80% of them are doomed to fail!
I believe wholeheartedly that we can address many of those issues by reinventing how we think about our corporate fabric (culture, decision making, processes, power distribution, mindset, behaviors and accountability level, engagement…).
In fact, I would like to propose an entirely new fabric.
The models we have used are becoming obsolete to a large extent. And while one may argue that they have allowed to create unprecedented prosperity and wealth in the world over the last 30 years, the truth is that it did so at our expense, bringing much suffering and disengagement in the workplace.
There is a path towards a new paradigm which suggests that we need to upgrade ourselves and our organizations, both transformations being intertwined and benefiting each other, dramatically increasing our people’s engagement level … and leading to a stronger and more sustainable performance.
I have visually represented that path through an ascending lemniscate.
1. Your personal awareness
People need to develop a better sense of who they are, how they operate, act and react, how they even have been unconsciously programmed, and how they can change their own “code”, if it limits them in what they do and how they do it.
Awareness is the key we all need to unlock the path to our transformation.
Ultimately what gets in our way usually finds its root in fear-based programming.
It is therefore crucial to develop the necessary discernment to track down our fear-based beliefs and reactions. Given work situations can sometimes be highly emotionally charged, being aware of our fear-based patterns and conditioning become critical.
We look in the book at very concrete tools which will help you train that new “awareness muscle”.
2. Organizational awareness
Similarly, we need to question our organizations and develop a sense of how things work and get done. In my experience, this is very rarely questioned or even discussed. While leaders will occasionally evolve the org charts and (more rarely) the organization’s governance, we usually do not challenge how things are done. We may elude the question altogether by saying “oh, this is simply part of our culture!”, but one needs to develop a much stronger sense of organizational awareness. The same way we become more aware at a personal level as discussed above, we also need to question our organizational structure and processes.
• What is our structure ? Formal and informal ? Does the structure allow us to get things done more efficiently ? How is control and alignment done ?
• How are decisions made ? How fast ?
• What is the level of accountability in the company ?
• How transparent are roles, initiatives and projects ?
In particular, we look in the book at two aspects of organizations which I have found to be two of the most informative indicators of an organization’s strength: decision making and accountability level.
3. Your vibration
From a personal standpoint, and for your corporate fabric to be as soulful and performant as possible, I believe that members of that fabric (the team members, the managers and the leaders) all need to become strong vibrational individuals.
Aware of their dominant vibrations, through a more acute sense of their feelings, needs and strengths, a clear understanding of what they want to achieve for themselves and for their teams.
People with substance, presence.
This is a prerequisite to true personal leadership.
In my experience, that path to becoming vibrant agents of the company goes through three important milestones:
– Being clear about your own feelings and needs, and be able to communicate them clearly. Without anger or without being in conflicting mode, while being empathic with other’s feelings and needs.
– Understanding what your strengths are and cultivate them to elevate you to your unique brilliance
– Vibrating powerfully by knowing, expressing (and aiming at) what you want as opposed to what you do not want.
We look in details at those 3 aspects in the book.
4. Agile structure
Likewise, at an organizational level, and once the organization is permeated with vibrant stakeholders, a similar evolution needs to happen organizationally. I am specifically looking in the book at Holacracy as a way to radically evolve our fabric’s operating system.
While there are several new emerging organizational models, one of the most promising and currently documented model is called Holacracy. Holacracy is about having dynamic roles, distributed authority, rapid iteration in how we evolve the structure, and transparent rules.
This is where the organization gains agility. Vibrant employees and creators thrive in a structure which in turn can now fully morph into its original design: adaptive and agile.
We look in the book at how decision making, accountability and power distribution is profoundly and positively impacted.
5. Your leadership
Personally, leadership really comes down to those three things:
1. Leaders get things down and get results
2. Leaders are agents of change
3. By inspiring the people they touch through authenticity and trust
You might think : wait a minute, I could add about ten other things to that (short) list ! And those ten additional characteristics would undoubtedly be “right” too!
I am only sharing those 3 things, because they have been my own experience as a leader and in working with many other leaders, at work or outside of work.
What we will really discuss here as we continue our journey, from personal awareness and raising our vibration to leadership, is that, in order to achieve 1. and 2., getting things down and results and driving change, it all starts with 3.
We rarely look at it this way. Instead, we mostly focus on the outcome (dollars, growth, market share wins…) as opposed to the qualities leaders need to embody to get to this results.
As we discussed above, it starts with your ability to be aware of your inner world, your programming, and from there, to raise your personal vibration, developing a more empathic communication style, tapping into your brilliance repeatedly and become that powerful magnet, attracting what you want, for you and your teams.
This all leads to unfolding your natural leadership, your qualities can then be fully expressed as you become that inspiring leader.
We also look in the book at how leadership is about leading from the heart and is about emanating trust.
6. Innovation unleashed
This is finally when optimal performance and continuous innovation can take place. I have retained the word innovation at this stage because in today’s world, this has increasingly become the key to sustainable success.
Interestingly, and more recently, I have started to witness how companies are getting more and more aware of the need to match innovation with organizational agility. Something, they will admit, had been largely overlooked in the past, but now is making its way on their agenda.
In particular, in our modern age, where businesses need to take decisions faster and faster. This “acceleration” increasingly creates (unbearable ?) tension within organizations, which people find it more and more difficult to cope with. Some might even get “lost” with that new level of complexity and pace of change.
Therefore, innovation can emerge when an environment in which people are encouraged to sense issues and/or opportunities is created, and when people feel empowered to do something about those tensions.
So, now that we looked at this ascending journey towards performance, leadership and innovation, one might ask : “So what ?”. Is this about reaching our full potential at work? Our leadership capabilities ? Expressing our very best ?
Well, yes … but not only !
I think there is a more to it. If we indeed consider the dynamic at our workplace as an “ascension” opportunity, one in which we have the chance to transform ourselves as well as our organizations, I can see the need for this “ascending energy” to be guided and directed.
The same way, for instance, our thoughts and actions need to be directed by our intention and will, the energy we spend at work also needs to be directed. But by what ? And towards what ? Some might say that the answer is obvious : “it should be directed by and towards the profit our companies need to make” !
I would like here to give it a different perspective. I think it instead should be guided by purpose. Our individual purpose and our collective purpose. Ultimately, this ascending virtuous movement will lead to a more soulful and purposeful fabric where both team members and the organization, all seen as living entities, can serve their purpose.
And once purpose becomes the driving force behind the “ascension” I discuss in this book, profit will flow, as a natural consequence.
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