Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #26
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, a shift toward Spring
The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual. – Vince Lombardi
Execution: the gap between what a company’s leaders want to achieve and the ability of their organization to deliver it.
– Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers. Are the followers reaching their potential? Are they learning? Serving? Do they achieve the required results? Do they change with grace? Manage conflict? – Max de Pree
“Why are you here?” I was asked in my first “career” job. I was a new process engineer hired to improve production operations, and the question was posed by a production manager. He continued, “I mean are you about activities, or getting results?”
His question spurred me to realize getting results wasn’t solely about completing my assignments. I needed to coordinate with others to facilitate results from our combined efforts. That insight has stuck with me ever since, and I often ask,
- Am I getting the results I want?
- Are the organizations I work with getting the results they want?
The issue I frequently encounter, is that it is easy to consume energy in activities that do not generate momentum toward desired outcomes. The result is a lot of effort expended to stay in a state of inertia. Many organizations experience this “Execution Gap”.
I rarely find people and organizations not working on problems they face. The challenge is to find the right issues to resolve that generate both equilibrium (a state of balance and calm presence) and momentum toward desired outcomes. How do we find those?
I believe we start by shifting our perceptions and mindsets for how things get done. To paraphrase Einstein, we need a different level of perceiving and thinking to deal with life today, than we’ve used to get to this point in time. I find it important to consider the view of Leaders, Followers, and the Context within which we’re living.
With the rise of the Industrial and Information Ages we adopted the metaphors of machines and computers as ways to describe organizations. People became human resources to fill the gaps that the machines and computers weren’t yet sophisticated enough to do.
Finding the right Followers to operate the process or system with the right incentives and controls to get work done profitably became a focus for Leaders. Sound familiar? Yet research shows that controls and extrinsic rewards and punishments fail to achieve desired outcomes. It is the intrinsic elements of purpose, autonomy and mastery that have the biggest impact.
We’re entering an age of rapidly rising robotic and artificial intelligence automation. It will displace many people doing routine, monotonous and/or dangerous jobs, transforming the world as we know it. Now is a critical time to shift our perceiving and thinking about how we get things done as people and organizations. The language of machines, computers, software, and content is real, and still an incomplete view.
As living beings, we are made up of Complex Adaptive Systems, the cell, brain, body, mind and spirit each with the goal of sustaining life. We live and work in an environment made up of Complex Adaptive Systems: global and national economies and politics, the weather, environmental systems of water, air, and the crust of the earth, solar flares, etc.
Organizations operate as Complex Adaptive Systems, with relatively similar and partially connected people and teams using systems and processes increasingly implemented through machines, computers and software to adapt and grow in a changing environment, with the goal of sustaining the enterprise.
It is urgent and important that we shift our perceptions and thinking, to explore how we get things done with minimal adverse consequences in Complex Adaptive Systems.
One characteristic of complex systems is that they are non-linear; small changes can cause large effects. Finding the right problem to solve that generates equilibrium and momentum toward desired outcomes, enables making small changes that have large impacts.
As increasing automation and information become the standard way of operating, organization models need to shift. Key elements include self-organization, the ability to operate with reduced hierarchy, less management effort and bureaucracy, and higher staff engagement with lower costs.
What matters is how we as people will adapt to the new context, and how we as leaders facilitate the growth of people and teams around us. I find the following questions useful:
- What small shifts will help me generate equilibrium and momentum to achieve my desired outcomes?
- How will I shift mindsets to perceive and lead in complex adaptive systems?
- As a leader, how do I engage, empower, and elevate people and organizations?
I work with executives and professionals to break out of inertia in reacting to the complex, volatile world around us, to creatively lead with equilibrium and momentum toward desired outcomes. Together we build trust, and cultivate leadership and organizational effectiveness to create a better future today. To learn more visit here.
Let’s create a better future today!