Off Script with Liberating Rules

Scripted-LifeI love the new Audi commercial. You’ve probably seen it. Everyone has a written script. They carry it around and refer to it. They don’t think. They don’t act outside the scripted boundaries. They follow their script, no matter what.

They follow their script even as their engagement and spirit wanes.

The commercial wouldn’t be funny if it wasn’t based on truth!

I believe we all have scripts. We have scripts in our heads for our roles as team leaders, team members, family members, parents, neighbors, spouses, or partners.

Some of our scripts serve us well. Some of them don’t serve us well, at all. Even worse, some of our scripts don’t serve others well, at all.

I learned my scripts from watching others and being guided by others. I watched parents, teachers, coaches, friends, colleagues, etc. – and learned what was “nice” to say and do as well as what was “not so nice” to say and do. I learned how my actions, behaviors, decisions, and words could make others angry (hmm, that’s not very fun . . . ) or happy (OK, that’s pretty cool) or engaged (aha, we’re learning together) or disengaged (oops).

Over time, I think I’ve refined my scripts so I’m less of a thorn in others’ sides and more of a willing partner to those with whom I share this daily journey. I still screw up but I’m trying to be nice and of service, every day.

Where this gets interesting is in a work team. Let’s say you have six people on a team, one of them the team leader. Each individual on that team has their own scripts happening in their heads & hearts. Everyone comes to the team with their own experiences and their own “experience-modified” scripts. Everyone is doing the best they can – but that’s a lot of competing scripts, expectations, rules, and noise happening every day.

How can the leader help the team go “off script” – to step away from each individual’s embedded scripts – and create a safe, inspiring workplace where players serve the team’s purpose, common goals, and shared values? Where every team member acts to apply their skills alongside trusted colleagues, WOW’ing customers consistently and delivering expected results?

With an organizational constitution.

An organizational constitution is a formal statement of the team’s purpose (reason for being, today), values and valued behaviors, strategies, and goals. When players have a hand in crafting these agreements and “sign up” to abide by these expectations in every interaction, they change the “scripts” experience. These expectations create liberating rules that help create workplace trust, respect, and dignity.

An organizational constitution helps these players go “off script” – away from their personal scripts – and embrace effective scripts that boost engagement, performance, and customer service.

What do you think? What scripts do you follow – and do they serve you and others well? How might “liberating rules” help your team or family behave in alignment? Add your insights or questions below.

My latest book, The Culture Engine, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

Don’t guess about the health of your team or company’s culture. Get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

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