Fear and Love in the Workplace; A Nation’s Concern?

Despite what you may think, Fear and Love in the Workplace is not the name of a new daytime drama. However, it certainly sounds like it could be, don’t you think? I can only begin to imagine how juicy it would be with secret office romances, power plays and backstabbing as daily occurrences.  Unfortunately, these day time dramas play out every day and not on a TV screen, but in real corporate offices, with real people. The effect can shape more lives than we might think.

Some may call it our “foot print” or “mark” that transcends us as individuals and influences generations. What we must ask ourselves, however, is ours a mark of love or fear?

To begin to see the impact of love and fear in the workplace, we can look to nature as our guide and example. In fact, the fractal nature of existence is a perfect model and analogy that can be applied to a business by noting that, as an individual improves so do teams, departments, divisions and entire organizations.  An organization’s influence is inevitable on employee’s behaviors. The question is whether that’s a good thing?

The type of organization that makes a positive difference economically and in community members’ lives, recognizes the interdependent nature of how each aspect of our lives (personal, social, professional, spiritual, community, environmental, etc.) effect one another.  Further, these organizations support employees with whole person health benefits in mind, generous leave, telecommuting, community volunteering, casual work environments and even on-site meditation areas and “chill” zones, created to promote employee social interaction.

When we stand back and look to see the “fractal effect” of organizations who recognize and support the whole person, we realize the significance of investing in our economic futures that, by developing the leaders we need in business we also develop the leaders we need in our communities. Investing in our future business leaders, creates a ripple that rises all tides, (personal, social, professional, spiritual, community, environmental, etc.) to quality living and abundance for those who desire and work for it.  THIS is precisely how business can be a conduit for social evolution

The workforce implications for choosing love over fear:  As individuals we are innately limited in our capabilities.  When we add new individuals with new skill sets the team expands its collective capabilities and is able to produce more than they could separately and individually, a dynamic called synergy.  As we make decisions based on love, rather than fear we begin to grow and are accepting of all manner of people, places and things.  We cannot separate the person doing the work from who they are.  And we are certainly much more than the roles we perform!  By being open and accepting of our coworkers and their differences we have an opportunity to expand our relationship capabilities, networks, learning and consequently our business opportunities. Fear limits all the aforementioned benefits and seeks status-quo and control.

The societal implications for choosing love over fear: Love accepts differences, while fear ridicules and isolates differences. A diverse society, supported by love and guidance yields diverse talents and a larger, more diverse pool of capabilities to be leveraged for society’s benefit.  It is cooperation that expands capabilities, while competition limits them.  A society that chooses love over fear recognizes the exponential synergy of leveraging small and large groups of people with diverse skill sets around a shared purpose. In fact, it’s how many of our current beliefs and cultural norms came to be today. While we haven’t yet reach the point of majority for organization’s (or our nation for that matter), operating from love over fear, however, one can see a growing demand for greater work/life balance, more consideration for our environment, compassion for others and a growing need to incorporate more meaning and purpose in our work and daily lives.

For the companies not sure yet, about the financial benefit of love over fear, think about this conversation once overheard between a CFO and CEO.  CFO asks, “What if we train them and they leave?” CEO responds, “What if we don’t and they stay?”

The CFO is operating from fear, of not having enough.  The CEO is operating from love and the sense that what’s best for employees’ growth, aligned with goals and purpose can only produce greater capabilities and consequently greater outcomes. Certainly things are not this black and white in real world circumstances. Yet, what matters is the intention of providing employees continuous learning and the tools to successfully perform their assigned roles and goals. Our intentions of support will lead us to develop creative alternatives rather, than simply see employee growth as an extra cost factor.

Fear-based leadership and cultures are the recipe for mediocrity, the workforce is literally conditioned to do just enough to not get fired or in trouble.   Fear-based leaders typically suppress talent and competition from the ranks and surround themselves with “yes” people who insulate them from dissent and reality and for their reward receive a different standard of treatment.  The culture becomes one of apathy as employees recognize they can do little to change the inequities and disparity of treatment.

One the other hand, a “love-based” leader understands his/her role is not to create followers but more leaders. Servant leaders are the original love-based leaders. They are selfless, they do not make us fear for our jobs or protect knowledge and information as a tool to create leverage over others.  Servant leadership operates from the stand point of enabling the greatest capabilities of his/her followers!

A supportive environment, where decisions are made based on love (support/guidance) and not fear (intimidation/internal competition/command and control leadership) is conducive to growth, right?!

So, if you want to grow as a person, a team, a family, an organization or a community it has to begin from a foundation of love. It is the environment in which all things grow!  Now, before you think I went all “Flower Power” on you, let’s boil it down to the simple fact that, we can only make decisions one of two ways, from fear or love. 

Love, support and guidance, are the few characteristics rarely discussed in organizations lead by fear and intimidation.  Currently, conservative estimates indicate over 60% of organizations are run through autocratic or authoritarian leadership norms.  When more than half of organizations in our country are run on fear-based norms and the high stress that accompanies these environments it’s time to pay attention to deleterious effect of fear on individuals, families, teams, up to and including our entire nation. Fear-based organizations commonly control information, lack compassion for employee work-life balance and support a culture of competitiveness amongst staff, all contributing to stress.

When we consider stress is the number one cause for health related issues and absenteeism from work, costing organizations billions each year, it no longer sounds like a “hippy notion” to incorporate the fear vs. love test when engaging in decision-making, leadership and organizational culture.

So, you may be asking yourself, how do I make sure I am a “love-based” leader, employee or entrepreneur?

Be the Leader You Seek. Begin with yourself, share what you’ve learned with others and begin creating your own ripple of love, support and guidance.  Every once in a while, we can all take a pause for the cause and ask ourselves:

“How do I feel when I make decisions from love over fear?”

“Are my motivations and outlook on certain topics fear-based (corrosive and detrimental to growth) or love-based (a positive environment for growth)?”

“Where in my life have I made decisions from fear?  What’s happening in that area?  What can change/improve?”

“Where have I made decisions from love?

“Who currently needs support and how can I provide that?”

Lastly, to further support your recognition leadership modalities, to serve as a model for others, and personally make the shift to ever increasing love-based decision-making, here are two lists of leader behaviors.

Fear-based leadership behaviors

  1. Communication is one way
  2. Lacking clear guidance of roles and behaviors
  3. Selective hearing- only good news
  4. Distrust amongst leadership
  5. Recognition, promotions etc. do not consider behaviors only numbers.

Love based leadership behaviors

  1. Puts others first
  2. Clearly and often articulates a compelling vision
  3. Recognizes behaviors that support the norms of the company, not just results
  4. Equips followers with the tools necessary to do their jobs
  5. Views work and life as a continuous learning process

With this foundation you can begin examining your own motivations, as well as those imbedded in larger systems (again, groups are a reflection of the individuals such as family, teams, business systems, communities, etc.).

Choosing love-based decision-making, support and guidance as a daily mode of being when we’ve been taught otherwise by the autocratic leaders of our ancestors for several generations is not an easy shift to make yet, there are a billion reasons why it benefits everyone to make the effort!

 

By Ryan McShane

 

Ryan is a HR Consultant, specializing in Leadership Development and Career Guidance. To connect with Ryan and learn more about the tools and services designed to guide individuals and organization to evolve to their highest potential, email [email protected] or visit the website at www.marc3solutions.com

 

Evoking Conscious Cultures: Dialogue to High Performance

One of the reasons why change fails is due to unconscious beliefs that define the culture. I’m going to show you how to uncover these limiting beliefs by sharing a communication methodology that provides the conditions necessary to design a conscious culture. Therefore, strengthening the fabric of the organization to become more flexible, proactive and adapt from a traditional culture to one of high performance!

First, we want to establish a clear understanding of what we mean by culture, conscious culture and unconscious cultures. Then, we will talk about how culture is driven and sustained and finally the methodology for enabling the establishment of a conscious culture through a practice called, Dialogue.

Culture

An organizational culture is reflected in the array of behaviors expected and accepted by members of the organization, including how stakeholders view their relationships based on interactions with the company. Culture includes shared beliefs, values and behavioral conduct.

Conscious culture fosters awareness, as well as, individual and collective reflection as a means of promoting ongoing learning, growth and development. Conscious cultures perpetuate relationship building, compassion, emotional intelligence and a greater alignment of purpose.

According to Jeff Klein, CEO of Working for Good, “Conscious Culture fosters recognition of the purpose of the company and the interdependent relationship between the company’s stakeholders”.

Unconscious culture is the result of an unplanned or accidental culture which, comes about from accepting and performing around unwritten or unspoken behaviors and norms passed from one employee to the next, and even one generation to the next.  Most likely an employee “knows” that certain behaviors are a part of the culture, yet it has never been documented. Accidental cultures can create both positive and negative outcomes according to Priscilla Nelson and Ed Cohen in their ATD article, The Journey to a Conscious Culture.

Jeff Klein explains, “Conscious Leaders catalyze Conscious Culture by applying and cultivating the practice of Conscious Awareness for themselves, their team members, and between the company and its stakeholders.”

Realize now, from no other place can massive cultural change occur and be sustained than through its leaders. Therefore, any change must start with understanding the current perspective of the leadership.

Leaders Drive Culture

Once leaders come to understand their role in visioning purpose and aligning resources to achieve the purpose, they must equally concern themselves with the “how”, of how the purpose will be achieved. The how determines the nature of the relationships amongst, across and beyond the organizational team, ultimately influencing the larger relationship to the community.

Great leaders know all too well, when purpose is not commonly held amongst the team thought dominates and conflict arises. One might say thought in itself is void of humanity, because it is a brain based activity; absent intention, it is simply brain activity. We also see however, that humanity (or our collective conscience) can, does and should influence thought, if we are to realize peace. Thought derived from compassion (understanding our action’s impact on the whole) will certainly include action that considers the whole. Leaders who wish to coalesce their teams and organizations must learn to tap into and reinforce this understanding regularly for their followers to remain aligned.

Dialogue to Conscious Culture:

Here is an approach to establishing authentic conversations to improve clarity, relationship building and performance.

Dialogue is a methodology that enables groups to rise above their beliefs, positional authority and egos, to operate and make decisions from values that respect others point of view and allows space for multiple and many times opposing viewpoints to be examined in a safe environment.

The very practice of dialogue creates interpersonal awareness and furthers emotional intelligence in the participants. By rising above positional authority, egos and current cultural conditions, we create a space and process for any organization across the globe despite its customs and culture to consciously align purpose, people and profit.

The premise…. Dialogue creates this change collectively by means of a large group speaking together in a circle. The theoretical basis for dialogue in the Center for Organizational Learning is David Bohm’s work on the nature of thought. Bohm was a physicist and his thinking was based on quantum theory, according to which, the observer and the observed are not in reality separate entities and that what we observe is a creation of our own perception.

“What you perceive, in other words, is not determined by independent external properties of ‘parts’ of reality, but is a function of the ways in which you try to perceive that reality.” (Isaacs, 1993)

Bohm’s 4 Principles of Dialogue: David Bohm, Physicist

  1. PARTICIPATION: The observer and the observed are not truly separate, even though we create an artificial separation so as to describe and manipulate the world. Bohm had a conception of the world of thought being like a kind of field in which we all participate – our mistake is in identifying with thoughts and claiming them as our own.
  2. COHERENCE: Look for incoherence between our intentions and our results, as this will point to where knowledge is defective.
  3. AWARENESS: Become aware of thought arising, rather than immediately identifying with it. This process would also allow us to be more aware of the results of our thoughts – in our feelings, perceptions and actions.
  4. ENFOLDMENT: As it relates to thought, this is the principle that indicates a thought does not disappear “once we have finished with it”, but that thoughts emerge into consciousness and back again.

With a reading and general understanding of the above principles, we are ready to move into the practices of Dialogue.

4 Practices of Dialogue

  1. Listening
  2. Respecting
  3. Suspending
  4. Voicing

Allison Jones is to be acknowledged for outlining the principles and practices succinctly in her shared PDF on spaceforlearning.com. Jones provides full detail with wonderful descriptions of the Practices and Practices within the Practices that inform each aspect of Dialogue. For brevity, I will pull out the main points below.

  1. LISTENING

“By listening deeply we put ourselves in touch with a larger whole – people’s words carry not just an immediate meaning but a whole context and connection. In preparing to listen at this deep level, five practices are recommended.

  • Be aware of thought: Notice how much our thinking arises out of memory, out of a host of ready-made responses and opinions. Things are already categorized in our minds, which makes fresh, intelligent thinking difficult. Listening to your own thinking and its limitations is the first step.
  • Stick to the facts: Listen without jumping to conclusions or judgments.
  • Follow the disturbance: Look for what happens when what we hear disturbs us emotionally. Ask, in what ways am I doing the very thing I claim others should not do?”
  • Listen without resistance: Notice the reaction and then continue to listen.
  • Stand still: Cultivate inner silence, using all of the practices above to get beyond the usual noisy turmoil that prevents us from hearing.

In dialogue these practices are taken into a collective setting. The shift in perspective, becoming “an advocate for the whole” – comes from not just listening from my own or another’s perspective. When we listen for the whole, we “speak to the center of the circle”, not just to individuals.

  1. RESPECTING

See a person with the intention of taking in more of them, understanding what has created their particular experience. It is suggested a practice to aid in this element is to listen as if it were all in me, based on the idea that if we can perceive something in another, it’s also a part of our own mental world.

 

  1. SUSPENDING

By suspending thought – neither identifying with nor suppressing it, we can watch the thought and not be bound to a mental direction taken by identifying with that thought. Removes positional thinking.

4.  VOICING

To begin this process (being aware of our thoughts in the present), we can ask ourselves, “What needs to be expressed now?” This practice is about focusing inwards, rather than rehearsing thoughts before speaking.

First finding and then having the courage to speak with your own voice is the challenge, then we want to overcome self-censorship by considering the risk of not speaking up.

Having explained now, the principles and practices one can begin to see how they contribute to shifting the culture and uncovering a more authentic and conscious way to be with one another, in the effort to align purpose.

Creating the New Culture

In dialogue, what develops during the process and practice is then used to create a common pool of meaning together. A conscious culture then evolves from written and spoken goals, values and behaviors, and practices that are taught, measured and reinforced in the organization.

Note: The active and engaging process of dialogue can be used with large groups for everything from articulation of mission and purpose to describing the culture that supports it.

Reasons to Start Now!

  1. There are distinct (performance) benefits to a conscious culture: according to Priscilla Nelson and Ed Cohen in their article, The Journey to a Conscious Culture
  2. New team members and leaders more rapidly assimilate to the culture.
  3. Employees more quickly understanding the range of acceptable behaviors.
  4. Top Talents are drawn to an empowering environment.
  5. Misalignment is easily diagnosed and realigned when there is a lack of fit.
  6. Likelihood of successful integration in the case of a merger or acquisition.
  7. Systemic change is easier because there is no battle between the conscious and accidental cultures.

Take action today and schedule a free demonstration or consultation to learn the secrets of dialogue and conscious business transformation practices that consistently lead to High Performance Organizations.

 

By: Ryan McShane

Ryan McShane has been guiding organizations to align their greatest resources to organizational purpose for the last 20 years.

The Result: High Performance Organizations!

Ryan McShane, Vice President, Marc3 Leadership Solutions [email protected], marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

For a Free Assessment of your Leadership Team’s impact on Employee Performance, contact me here to schedule. [email protected], www.marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

Marc3 Leadership Solutions provides small to medium sized businesses Fortune 500 Level Resources, creating “High Performance Organizations” expanded capabilities leading to Greater Profit, Top Talent, and Outstanding Culture.

 betterworld

To speak up is to be shipped out.

Leaders, could you be sabotaging the return on your best investment?

Allow me to ask you a seemingly simple question: Would you spend the extra money to buy a color copier and only use black and white prints? Of course, you wouldn’t. It doesn’t make sense. It’s a poor investment of money. The same is true for employees. If employees do not obtain results and contribute at their highest levels, we do not receive a proper return on the single largest investment most companies make—employee salaries!

I write mostly about how to maximize employee performance, but today, I’m going to share with you what can absolutely shut down employee performance and how to avoid it.

It’s the epidemic no one talks about across ranks, but you can bet employees are talking amongst themselves.  You see, if you disagree or even propose another approach some leaders see this as a direct challenge to their authority. In fact, you’re labeled a troublemaker, dissenter and nuisance..

In these cases there is likely one of two things happening, either the ego is in the way or these leaders are not in fact leaders, but figure heads placed to maintain status quo.

The ego scenario is more common and leaves employees with the sense that, if the idea wasn’t the leaders, it’s likely to be rejected. This “leader” wears their authority on their sleeve and any perceived threat to that authority (real or imagined) is reason to “put that employee in his/her place.” These leaders are performance killers!

The less common, placeholder leadership position is likely to reject anything new or different, because “this is how we’ve always done it.” They will seek to avoid conflict at all costs and even resort to non-responsiveness or passive aggressive behavior toward the employee(s) viewed as challenging the status quo.

Will top talent and especially next generation talent put up with a culture of compliance over creativity and impact? Consider for a moment we currently have 4 generations in the workforce: Seniors, Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. There are very few seniors remaining in the workforce. Yet, many boomers still remain due to a financial downturn and an effort to recapture lost investments. The boomers, also, still hold the majority percentage of leadership roles in companies. When we step back and consider the larger social influences and their impact to each generation, we are reminded just what this does to perceptions and ultimately how they lead.

The Senior demographic were dutiful and loyal. Boomers shared some of these characteristics, yet, later, went through a phase of questioning the corporate establishment only to have their questioning quelled by the enchantment of material items obtained through positions of authority and prestige. Next, we have the stereo-typically defined “question everything group” Generation X, who saw their parents downsized and became jaded with the corporate institution. Finally, we have the Millennials who grew up doing everything in teams and received trophies for participating and, yet, has no experience of life prior to digital technology. They are referred to as the “digital natives”.

One can see the very values typical of each generation create a variety of perspectives about the world around them. The perspectives if considered equally across generations would provide the value of diversity thought leading to adaptability to proactively meet, ever-changing client business demands across a new digital landscape.

What happens if the perspectives are not given equal consideration and influence, as is the case in many authoritarian-dominant structures? We are limited to operate through the lens of that one structure as defined by the current leader(s). In other words the “how” is pre-scripted to past experiences and we hear things like, “we’ve always done it this way”, a common perspective of the status quo “leaders” mentioned before. Additionally, the authoritarian style implies anything outside the prescribed is non-conformity and rightly punishable.

It comes down to this folks, where a dominant perspective is maintained in positions of authority which do not necessarily represent the views of the entire workforce, employee engagement is unlikely. When employees are not permitted opportunities to question, to grow and to seek new ways of doing then they effectively begin to shut down.

Leaders who do not permit questioning and alternative approaches or perspectives will reduce motivation and creativity; in essence, creating a culture of doing just enough to “fly under the radar” and collect a paycheck. The “color copier scenario” of not getting what you pay for plays out over and over in many organizations across the nation. Billions are being lost through disengagement of employees. Sadly, employee engagement levels are at their all-time lows and disengagement at its highest across the nation.

Hiring and paying smart, talented professionals and not listening to what they have to say is the color copier scenario, all over again. You’re not getting what you paid for!

Don’t wait any longer. You could be hemorrhaging money in disengaged employees. Now is the time to examine what are your disengaging systems and outdated modes of leadership that shutdown employee performance.

3 Steps to Avoid and Eliminate Employee Performance Shutdown:

  1. Assess, examine and reflect on whether leaders’ behaviors are creating outcomes consistent with company purpose or mission as it relates to stimulating employee performance.
  2. Create and clearly articulate a culture of openness, supported by policy. For example, promote and recognize creative thinking and innovation leading to greater efficiency and service.
  3. Model dialogue. Be the example and demonstrate a willingness to have the “tough talks”.

Very simply, if you are in a leadership position and you cannot accept another opinion or viewpoint from employees without viewing it as dissent, then you are hurting the people under your stewardship and the organization’s revenue.

It pays to know!

By: Ryan McShane, Vice President, Marc3 Leadership Solutions [email protected], marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

For a Free Assessment of your Leadership Team’s impact on Employee Performance, contact me here to schedule. [email protected], www.marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

Marc3 Leadership Solutions provides small to medium sized businesses Fortune 500 Level Resources, creating “High Performance Organizations” expanded capabilities leading to Greater Profit, Top Talent, and Outstanding Culture.

 

Conditioned to Survive or… Create?

Are today’s learning systems conditioning us to survive or create?   You may ask, what’s the difference? When we operate from survival, we see the world as a dangerous and unfriendly place, any inspiration gives way to apathy and we experience a sense of going through the motions. When we operate from creation, we drop all … Read more

The Corporate Shift – A Leadership Issue?

More and more full time employees are becoming disenfranchised with corporate cultures and feeling abused by their leaders are heading out on their own, to create the lifestyle they truly desire.  At least that’s how one Gen X’er referred to it recently when he shared with me that he started a side business. As poor leadership, high demands … Read more