During this 5th module of my Marsha Clark & Associates’ POWER of Self program, we continued our shift from SELF to examining organizational dynamics. This weekend retreat made me more aware of traps that I fall into… traps that regularly interfere with building a great company and successful partnerships.
What I’m coming to realize from all of the learnings I’ve had since starting this program last October is that it comes down to the choices we make. Some choices are limited by reacting reflexively or blindly, while other choices are made with some level of awareness.
This module went deep… Exploring effective leadership from the aspects of knowing MYSELF and being able to think systemically, taking into account cause and effect, while also SEEING myself in the mirror.
To begin this module, we created an “Organization Simulation.” While this organization was a corporate structure, it also could represent family, community, church, a volunteer opportunity, any situation where an organized group comes together.
The focus was to create partnership scenarios as a way to be an effective leader.
PARTNERSHIP – We are jointly committed to the success of whatever process we are in… AND TO EACH OTHER.
We all know how difficult it can be to create and sustain partnerships. We may have had such a partnership in the past and then something happened and the partnership fell apart.
We may also have worked really hard for potential partnerships, and yet, they never developed. So, even if we’re involved in a knock-down, drag-out negotiation, the question remains: “Are we jointly committed to the success of this process?”
The organizational structure we worked with
… with Customers ultimately “owning the show.”
- There are the TOPS with overall responsibility for the organization.
- There are the BOTTOMS who do the work of the organization – making its products or rendering its services.
- There are the MIDDLES who exist between the TOPS and the BOTTOMS.
Another purpose of this exercise was for us to see ourselves as sometimes a Top, sometimes a Bottom, sometimes a Middle, and even sometimes as a CUSTOMER within our own organization.
Personally, I know that here at Lifestyle Frisco, even though I hold a Top position on the org chart, I daily find myself working like a Bottom and/or waiting for “delivery” like a Customer. In each of these positions, I have choices… Some of those choices pull me in to Partnership and some of those choices will knock me out of Partnership status.
So, during this exercise, there was me, and there were the other women in the group. We each drew lots to decide who was playing each of the four organizational roles. As the simulation began, we all quickly realized that each of us behaved as if behind “walls”… living in our own worlds, doing our own work.
But yet, also during the exercise, new information would be thrown over the wall. A change in product design direction, an acquisition/merger, outsourcing (and therefore dissolution) of certain departments. Emotions would flare. Frustration. Anger. Impatience.
Then, the reactions began
- We made up “stories” about the situation;
- We “labeled” others – “They’re malicious/ insensitive/ incompetent/ clueless/ etc;”
- We took it personally;
- We lost focus on the organization’s goals;
- We fell out of Partnership… both with each other and with our Customers.
But, What ELSE Could Be True…
Maybe, it’s not personal at all. Maybe if we understood what it was like in the other three worlds:
- TOPS surviving in complexity and responsibility. The outside pushing in and feeling accountable for the whole system.
- BOTTOMS surviving in “Us vs. Them.” Vulnerability. No inclusion in decision-making, yet on the receiving end of choices made by the higher-ups.
- MIDDLES surviving in a tearing. A constant pull from above, below, and sideways from Customers.
- CUSTOMERS surviving in “Plop, then Neglect.” Big promises made. Then, radio silence. Then, excuses and delays. Disappointments. Promises broken.
This simulation was a blind experience to the organizational dynamics that constantly surround us. By “blind,” I mean that we had very little instruction outside of a description of which of the four roles we played. We just had to jump in, figure out what our role was in the organization, and then discuss what happened.
How Come It Goes the Way It Usually Goes?
What Would It Look Like If THIS Happened Instead?
One of the best learnings I took away from this exercise was to deliver the following statement to the entire Lifestyle Frisco team:
You are being given a lot of authority and power here… I am not going to be “mom.”
You need to work on how to work together for the betterment of the company and create the best service to our readership and to our clients.
And then ASK THEM for ideas on how they want to work together better and what that would look like.
In short, in this module, I learned to be a person who SEES others… Who gets who others are and what’s important to them. A leader who gets behind them and helps move them ahead in their worlds.
AND, a person who puts my projects, asks, and shortcomings out to others… A leader who lets others know who I am and what’s important to me allowing others to get behind me, when I need support, and move me ahead.