Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fearlessness: a new corporate value?

Anyone interested in change within corporate environments should read this great interview with Margaret Wheatley.

She paints a grim picture of modern corporate life: intense focus on short-term results at the expense of all else; no time left to think etc. Magaret quotes a Gallup survey on how people are feeling about their workplace: "Last year, more than 70 percent of the American workforce
felt disengaged, up from around 33 percent in 2000. That’s what happens if you squeeze fewer people to do more work, give them shorter deadlines, measure their work using meaningless metrics, and, to top it off, treat them with profound levels of disrespect."

So why is this happening, especially when most leaders and CEO's know only too well how damaging this can be?

Wheatley argues that CEO's are often powerless to act here, they themselves are too caught up in the vicious cycle, too busy delivering the results, too busy executing. Besides it's an impossible task for a single human anyway - to turn back the tide of market expectations.

To be fearless, she says, is to face the reality of your situation and to realize - without deluding yourself - that you can be more powerful than you are. Fearlessness is not the sole domain of the senior leaders, quite the reverse it can be found throughout the organization.

So give up on large-scale transformation, it just isn't going to work in the modern world. Chose instead to stimulate small scale change from within. Help a few people to realize their talent. Encourage some to innovate. Take time to engage with them.

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