Today we look at an extract from Leading From Behind by Dirk Devos, Manon De Wit, and Robert Lubberding. The book believes that for a business to truly transform, it requires a genuine people-centric approach that turns anxiety into courage. As such, we need to deepen our understanding of how humans tick both as individuals and collectively in a group. The extract rounds up their thinking that businesses need ‘A More Granular Understanding Of People’.
“People are born and raised in family settings that help shape their personal internal views and their social dialogues in life. The group’s and relationships that people live in can activate their best ad their worst attributes.
Organizations are social webs of networked conversations governed by explicit and implicit rules of agreement. That is how we shape the dialogue infrastructure.
Meetings are gatherings where views and ideas are exchanged to find common resolutions/ These discussions enable organizations to progress and move forward. Meetings are also places where we act out our personal need to be seen, to be heard, and to be valued for who we really are and what we bring to the table. Meetings are the perfect place to act out dominance and navigate or fight conflicts in the hope that we will finally accomplish our goals.
On a daily basis at work, we find that our calendars are tightly packed with back-to-back meetings. We find ourselves sitting in energy draining conference rooms, at large tables where we often repeat unproductive and dysfunctional rituals of the past.
As a consequence, invisible human boundaries, both intrapersonal and interpersonal, develop and grow into systemic boundaries that are recognized in business as organizational silos. These can break down the structural webs of meaningful conversations in the dialogic infrastructure. Therefore, anxieties arise and block a people-centric approach. In this process, we find that we lose our sense of curiosity and exploration, which prevents us from becoming more adaptive.
Recent research has identified two core drivers that are critical to an organization’s development: building trusted relationships and fostering an ongoing, collective process of redefining meaning. This is called ‘fostering generative relationships’. With an increase in organizational complexities and mounting anxiety, we see a breakdown of relationships and the capacity for collective strategizing gets lost.
Most of us handle and cope with difficult group dynamics intuitively. We apply automatic reflexes ad repeat familiar patterns of behavior to navigate the ups and downs experienced in groups and elsewhere in the organization. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. Think metaphorically of the latest software applications running on an outdated operating system, and the havoc wreaked by the inevitable system crashes.
We behaved that it’s time to upgrade our conscious understanding from a command and control mindset to one of ‘leading from behind’. Not just to talk about it, but to truly shift our daily practices so that we start setting the right example in leading from behind. ”
“Those who are exceptional at leading from behind are likely to be different than those who excelled at leadingf from the front. And this raises the question: are we identifying and develping the leaders who can tap the power of their collective genuis?” – Linda A. Hill
Leading From Behind is available to buy here.
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