Tuesday, 6 August 2019

On company values

"Disagree and commit"
"Embrace the elephant"
"Don't be a d!ck"
"Listen. Challenge. Commit. A good leader has the humility to listen, the confidence to challenge, the wisdom to know when to stop arguing and commit."
"We use data to drive decision making. Data-driven-decisions."

These are are just some of the catchy phrases that some "modern" workplaces aspire to implement as company culture....great words, but easier said than done in practise IMHO. There's this somewhat unreasonable expectation that human beings can just implement this stuff - but we all know too well, humans are emotional and predictably irrational...

If you're a leader...
You're bound to issue instructions, ideas or directives that are not going to sit well with your teams. You have a duty to listen to feedback, alternative points of view, and use these as inputs into your thought process and ultimately make the call. It's not about paying lip service and say "I've listened" without truly listening...what if you're wrong, and you might even be the HIPPO in the room? Even if your decision doesn't change, and you set the directive, you're ultimately responsible and accountable for the outcome.
What if the directive appears to be wrong? Do you stick it out till the end because of your ego and risk losing credibility? Some might say a real leader will step up, and own up saying "Hey, I was wrong guys, but we gained a lot of learning from this."
Still, as a leader, you then trust (expect) your team to follow-through no matter what...but is this even as simple as it seems? Probably not...how do you behave when you find out that there's still resistance? Do you flip your lid? What kind of a leader does that make you? Some might argue that being decisive, forthright, firm and tough on naysayers are great attributes for a leader...."the buck stops here!".

If you're on the receiving end of the instruction / strategic directive and you disagree...
You've said your piece, provided feedback, you may have even fundamentally disagreed with the decision...and now you're faced with understanding yourself: Can you let go, can you commit, even though you violently disagreed? Are you serious about the best outcome for the team regardless of your personal opinion? How will you stop yourself from unconsciously falling back into dissent-mode?
As a team player, your leader expects you do so. But have you prepared yourself to work towards that outcome?
How do you stop yourself from sounding like a stuck record?
My humble advice: stop being this guy. If you can't let go, then you're limiting your own growth.
BUT...ask yourself this: What am I willing to walk away from?
If the directive conflicts fundamentally with your core professional or personal value system, then what do you do?
My view: if it gets to that level of personal dilemma, and you're so sure of your value system, then leave, quit the company altogether, or change teams...it depends on how serious you are about this value system of yours.
If the conflict is not even near enough to compromising your value system, then ask yourself how can you adapt your own behaviour & approach, how can you help to solving the problem, and how can you help influence the outcome? How can you show your leader you're committed, no matter what?

This isn't always easy...the emotional forces at play can be intense, pulling you back...but once committed, your leader is expecting following through and be a team player.

Both Leader and Follower need to have a keen handle on self-awareness, "Know thyself"...some call this "mindfulness"...

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