Feb 7, 2019
One of my most useful ‘learnings’ of late comes from the book, Reinventing Organization (2104) by Fred LaLoux. The learning is this: to be an effective leader in a successful organization, you must pay attention to 3 energy fields.
The energy of activity … of tasks … of transaction. If you have risen to a position of authority in any organization, it is safe to say that you have developed an expertise in getting things done. Without task completion, very little gets accomplished and certainly nothing changes. Mastering activity/task is fundamental.
The energy of relationship. Relationship is the connective tissue in an organization. Think of someone who is masterful at creating relationship. What does she do? She reaches out. She is forever building bridges – between people, between departments, with the customer, with contractors and vendors etc. She takes a personal interest in others. She listens intently. She has empathy for a human condition. She creates psychological safety in her meetings. She sees personal vulnerability, not as weakness, but rather as a threshold to let another into her world. She balances the world of activity with the world of relationship. Relationship begets trust which is the fundamental building block of all successful teams.
The energy of context. This is the constant referencing to organizational purpose. This is where individuals make meaning of their work. This is where leaders ask and answer questions like: Why is this job important to me/to us? Why is this job worth doing? Why is this organization worth giving a life to? This might be the hardest of the 3 energies and the least developed. (BTW, in the world of safety, this context is the why of our HSE system and practices which is almost never spoken about.) This demands a certain humility i.e. that you and I are in service of something bigger than our egos.
A tip for leaders: notice which of these energies are most missing in your organization and in your team, and then put a practice in place to ‘balance the plate”.
Leaders who pay attention to these three energies – the energy of task, the energy of relationship and the energy of context – create work environments in which individuals have an opportunity to thrive, and so too the organization.