I had the pleasure recently to speak at a leadership roundtable event with sixty business people who shared a common purpose – they want to be more effective leaders in their companies.
I was honored to help extend their understanding of how servant leaders create high performing, values-aligned organizations, every day.
These leaders meet twice a month to learn the elements of servant leadership and purposeful culture, and examine how to embrace those approaches in their own organizations, divisions, departments, or teams.
In talking with the consultants who created this successful program, the classic “knowing-doing” gap came up. Learning all the elements of servant leadership and culture refinement is easier than implementing those elements!
Most of the program’s participants engage fully in the program sessions, madly taking notes. However, many have not yet had success embracing these new approaches.
What gets in the way? There are hundreds of variables that can inhibit embracing new behaviors and habits. Limited time. Limited opportunity to test something that may not work the first time (!). Organizational systems may not support the new behaviors. The organization’s values and norms may not support a shift from “command and control” influencing to servant leadership.
And, some of the program’s participants have asked for help. They’ve invited the consultants in to their company to examine how the leader is perceived and how the organization’s culture is operating. Just as I do with new culture clients, these consultants interview the leader’s direct reports and a variety of other players throughout the organization. They conduct a culture assessment. They provide the results in the form of an interview summary and the assessment profile.
These tools help shed light on good and great practices that the leader demonstrates – as well as the gaps between current behavior and desired behaviors. The gaps between how the culture currently operates and how high performing, values-aligned companies operate are immediately apparent. Opportunities for servant leadership behaviors are clearly outlined.
With this data in hand, the leaders are fully informed about their current reality. With that clarity, they see the benefits of changing their approach and of modifying their organizational culture. They also realize that they can’t make these changes on their own; they need the guidance of trusted partners (their consultants) to help them gain traction in the midst of the hectic pace of their work environment.
How well do you see your current reality? If you are like most of us, your perception is skewed. “Things are fine. We’re on the cusp of getting better – I can feel it.” That may be true. Wouldn’t you prefer to have real data in hand so you can understand any gaps that exist – and begin to address them?
Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below. What effective ways to you have of keeping in touch with the perceptions of your internal customers – your employees? How well would you say your organization culture operates today – pretty good, not so good, or somewhere in between?
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