Category Archives: Leadership LIFT
If you were to consider what defines a “fearless” workforce, what would be the defining characteristics?
These traits most likely would come to mind:
- Overcoming obstacles
- Creating new solutions
- Bold communication
These characteristics are effective behaviors against external challenges. Yet more importantly, they are even more critical against internal challenges that keep an organization fearful from within.
Many studies have been conducted on this topic, and a particular one from Gustavo Razzetti’s Fearless Cultures initiative resonates with what many others discuss.
Truly fearless organizations by and large are noted for transforming their culture from one that gets the worst out of people to one that gets the best from all of their people. They are fearless from the inside challenges, which enables people to act from a point of freedom and focus that is not counter-productive to survival mechanisms.
For context, here are some of the behaviors an internally fearful organizaiton exhibits:
- Cutthroat behaviors to get “one-up” on another employee or “internal competitor“
- Silenced people who protect their jobs, and short-term peace, in the face of bullying and other threats
- Silos, whereby people need to “stay in their lane”, that squelch collaboration
- Top-down hierarchy that does not lend to being accountable at the top
Fearless cultures, on the other hand, allow for autonomy, change to the status quo and traditional norms, and protect people who wish to speak on any topic that is a barrier to personal, team, or organizational growth.
If we reviewed the first few traits of a true and internally fearless culture, we could apply them in the following manner:
- Overcoming obstacles – removing internal barriers, personalities and behaviors that instill and leverage fear
- Creating new solutions – allowing innovation to flow freely from any individual, paving the way for agile collaboration
- Bold communication – speaking up without repercussions, holding others mutually (yet respectfully) accountable
- Unequivocal Trust In Leadership – employees trust their leaders are looking out for mutual benefit and not the leader’s own interests
Changing your culture to one that is not ruled by fear internally is a process of creating fully accountable mechanisms, allowing everything and everyone to be questioned and challenged, and fostering a safe environment that allows for mistakes, failure and experimentation instead of mere ROI results on every dollar.
The organization that embraces this type of culture shift is like an automobile engine that has been tuned up. The gunk has been removed, the fluids are fresh and moving, and the energy has been boosted as connections and conduits have been cleaned from corrosion.
Some of the more positive results of internally fearless cultures is that they allow for the workplace to be:
- More self aware, both individually and culturally in not allowing fear to manifest
- Create an atmosphere to have straight, tough questions and open talk
- Support failure, allowing for individuals and teams to learn, grow and become better
- Invite participation and collaboration inclusively from all parties
Creating a fearless culture takes, no pun intended, courage to changes that might be met with resistance from the best performers, particularly ones with power bases to lose. Yet it’s those behaviors that are needed to be overcome to unlock the potential of everyone by allowing psychological safety and true 360-degree accountability to permeate the company.
Fearless organizations take a lot of work to change, but once transformed can perpetually keep itself in a sustained environment of courage and inclusivity for all voices to matter in the company.
Ask yourself this week, do your people fear others outside, or inside, the organization?
One of the more overlooked aspects in leadership is helping to remove as many obstacles that get in the way of your people succeeding.
A leader can only take an organization so far. It’s the collective, magnified successes of the individuals and teams within your organization that determine the overall achievements of the company.
In order to make your people more successful, a leader should do everything possible to ensure barriers to success are removed. Here are some examples of how leaders can clear away obstacles that hinders their team.
- Ensure processes and procedures run smoothly. Many times an employee can’t do their job effectively because of barriers that get in their way to accomplishing certain steps. These can include long procedures, tech issues or too many redundant or unnecessary steps in a routine. When processes and procedures have priority over workflow, employees will loose faith in those processes whenever it prevents them from succeeding in their work.
- Hold leadership and team members accountable for actions that create toxic cultures and hinder synergy. Have you ever had a person who holds things up or never changes because – they claim – they don’t want to do the extra work, or that it takes too much work to change what they do? Or the leader who won’t accept any new ideas unless it’s their own? This type of team or individual self-preservation is selfish and does not allow success at any level, more often than not leading to diminishing returns. Leaders must ensure that all in the organization, including themselves, have a clear vision for knowing what the overall mission is and how they help or hinder any progress towards it.
- Spend more time and money on proper training to level up your people. Many studies reveal how little resources are spent on training, and when they are allocated, how ineffective it is. Investing in your team is never a waste of money, but it needs to be effective. Sending people to conferences, online learning and other training programs need to be aligned as to how this will enable their people to succeed at their jobs. Training should always be a process of leadership and their staff working to identify what is needed to make the workplace more impactful and successful.
- Consult with all levels of the organization to identify that impede goals. Line level and field staff tend to know more about the impediments that get in the way of their work. And while good leaders generally have a pulse on those barriers, most of the time when brought to their attention the leader will admit to their employee that they were unaware of those issues. Building an open and accepting forum in which barriers are identified and resolved by every level of the organization will enable the company to move quicker and not have a blind eye or deaf ear to the real obstacles.
- Remove bottlenecks and unproductive routines that take away from mission critical focuses. Administrative committees that need multiple meetings to approve the next corporate initiative can greatly hinder the speed in which your staff can stay relevant in the marketplace. Long buying processes instill a lack of confidence in your company’s supply chain. Endless drafts to ensure that branded messaging is just right can frustrate your marketing team from being first to publicly message a new concept. If your internal bottlenecks result in a lack of speed, this will negatively impact the ability of your people to do their jobs with confidence or speed as well. Make sure all processes are necessary and expedient while ensuring they still accomplish any branding, purchasing and approval standards, but ensure those standards are mission-critical at all times.
In today’s world speed is not the only thing that matters. The ability of the entire workforce in your organization to be successful is solely the responsibility of the leader. The confidence in your people to accomplish much because they are able will transform your business and create more successful results and more engaged and committed employees.
Take the extra time to remove the obstacles and clear a runway for your team to lift off to greater heights of success.
One thing interesting about goals and change. No matter when you initiate progress, the starting point is always the same.
Regardless if an individual or team has had years of sustained success or just barely starting out, the reference line is always the same. You start on the ground, your baseline being achievement of a new goal.
It consistently begins with a dream, goal, eye towards change or progress. No matter what success or failure has preceded it, the next step towards achievement is always knowing the big picture and then marshaling efforts and resources towards attaining it,
Knowing this starting point is key for a couple of reasons. First is knowing that past success – or failure – has no bearing whatsoever on future success. While recent success might create more confidence going in, there is never a guarantee for the next success, let alone that any foundational achievements will fundamentally ensure the next achievement.
This leads us to the second reason to know about this starting point. It should keep individuals and teams humble enough to know that everyone, every cause, every step towards progress starts all over again at this point.
Leaders have to instill trust and integrity every day en route to results. Athletes have the next competition to prepare for; even champions have to start a new season at zero just like their competition. New products and services must give way to the next enhancement or new product.
Any progress is all about perspective. Having the right perspective keeps one grounded, humble and willing to work hard towards the next worthwhile endeavor.
Start with the right perspective to increase your ability to reach the destination you’re plotting for.