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Leadership Q&A: The Organic Facilitator


This is a third in a series of columns about Organic leadership-  Turn of the Tide and The Organic Imperative. This series points out the change that is happening to the function of leadership. The shift is from the management of organizational processes, to the engagement of people.

Last week I wrote that Organic leadership emerges from the living interaction of people, and is a product of their attitudes and behaviors, their commitments, values and vision for impact.

From this perspective, personal initiative is where leadership begins. If so, then how a business is organized needs to change if the key leadership asset is personal engagement with the mission of the organization. The prospect of hundreds or tens of thousands of employees taking personal initiative to do what is best for the company is a frightening prospect for most executive leaders. The last thing they perceived they need are people who have strayed off the reservation to do what they think best.

I see this mindset in many places. It shows me just how ill-prepared most leaders are to lead a 21st century company. If, as the executive leader of an organization, you are afraid of your own people’s best efforts, then you are going to have a problem adapting to the changes are taking place in the world of organizations.

The future of your business is dependent on the personal leadership of the employees who work for you. In reality, you work for them and your job is to facilitate the processes and interaction that gives your employees the greatest possible opportunity to give their best. This means letting them lead through their own personal initiative.

The new skills for leaders is knowing how to organize people and their interaction with one another.

As a facilitator, you are not delegating tasks, but a mission that needs to be fulfilled. You bring people together and give them the tools to succeed. You release them to their own initiative to lead.

The executive’s job today is to create a work environment that lowers the barriers for people to lead. Here are the marks of this kind of organization.

1. Employees feel free to solve problems.

2. Employees collaborate to solve problems and create opportunities.

3. Issues and disputes don’t travel up the change of command to the lead executives desk, but are resolved by those who are closest to the problem.

4. Organizational change is less painful and forced, with a more innovative, adaptive process for finding ways to make systems work.

5. The communication between people and the company, their collaboration together and the coordination of different departments and business units is smoother, less conflicted, and more efficient.

The shift from a traditional organizational management style of leadership to being an Organic leadership facilitator is not easy. The central problem in most organizations is not the attitudes and behaviors of people, but the resistance of the organizational system to change.

The easiest thing to change are ideas and people. The book and speaking industry is built upon the voracious hunger for ideas that matter, that are inspiring and make a difference. People are willing to sacrifice short term gains for long term impact when there is trust, a common purpose, with a vision for the future that is exciting and worthy of their engagement.

The problem is the system of organization that exists in most businesses. We are all so close to it that we don’t see it for what it is. The structure of our organizations seem to be fixed, unchangeable, and resistant to modification. To change it, we must first recognize that the system is a human creation, subject to our decisions and actions.

If you are an executive leader who wishes for her organization to be led by Organic leaders, here’s a starting point.

1. Commit to aligning all organizational processes with your company’s purpose. If it doesn’t seem like this is possible, then there are two potential problems.  You have the wrong processes, or your purpose is poorly identified.

2. Develop a purpose for your department, or company that defines the impact that you want to have.

3. Engage employees to clarify what the company’s purpose should be, and how it can be aligned with the realities that they find in the work place.

Aligning your purpose with organizational processes is a key to creating an environment where personal initiative for impact grows. Learn to facilitate the leadership initiative of your employees, and your organization will grow to be known as a Company of Leaders.

Photo: AttributionShare AlikeSome rights reserved by HGruber

About the author

Dr. Ed Brenegar I'm a leadership speaker, writer and consultant who is a mentor and catalyst for change. I assist leaders and their teams in the transitions required to succeed in today's complex organizational environment. I live in Western North Carolina. I'm involved the Boy Scouts, a charitable leadership training group called Lessons In Leadership, an ordained Presbyterian Church USA minister, and am the host of the Say Thanks Every Day social network.

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