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Organizational growth story – Leadership and organizational development

In Leadership , April 18, 2018

In the growth journey of an organization, developing leadership and organization alike is extremely vital.

Let’s first understand what are Leadership and Organizational Development?

Many organizations still do not fully differentiate between leadership and management and this makes it challenging to develop leadership & consistent organizational performance.

Leadership is the ability to create a vision and encourage others to commit their energy and creativity to that vision. Leadership development (LD) is – set of all activities which enhances the quality of leadership within an organization by focusing on interpersonal relationships, social influences and the current organizational climate.

But leadership is only one half of the development story.

Organizational Development (OD) is – a planned effort, organization-wide, managed from the top, to increase organizational effectiveness and health, through planned interventions in the organization’s ‘processes’, using behavioral science knowledge.

In a nutshell the vital ingredients for leadership and organizational development are the “Human Interactions” that we are able to conjure both inside and outside the organizational context.

Leaders’ attitudes to the key issue – the basis for human change and organizational development – are critical.

Many people still think organizations work like machines. Their view is: “Get the design right… and it will produce the results you desire.”

However it is increasingly recognized that what is to be organized in an organization is human motivation, creativity, efficient human interaction, managing change & other related influences.

Recall what it’s like when you want something done. Particularly when you’re in hurry or the task is a little different from the usual.Some people will procrastinate, find creative ways of avoiding (if only they would put this level of creativity into their work!) or do the bare minimum.Managers are likely to seek change in behavior.Leaders achieve organizational development by influencing others.

So to maximize performance improvement both leadership and organizational development need to be addressed to ensure that all the relevant influences are taken into account.

In order to fully address this, Ken Wilbur – author of ‘The Spectrum of Consciousness’ & ‘A Theory of Everything” – suggests that there are always four factors which are interacting.

He calls them “Four Quadrants” (as they are drawn from a larger map of human development).

Upper-Left (UL)”I”
Interior Individual
/ Inner Leader
E.g. –Thoughts
Upper-Right (UR)”It”
Exterior Individual
/ Outer Leader
E.g. –Behavior
Lower-Left (LL)
Interior Collective
/ Inner Organization
E.g. – Culture
Lower-Right (LR)
Exterior Collective
/ Outer Organization
E.g. –Infrastructure

I have re-named his four quadrants to map our leadership and organizational development context:

  • The inner leader: is the invisible world of thoughts and feelings
  • The outer leader: is the visible world of actions and behavior
  • The inner organization: the invisible world of shared social norms
  • The outer organization: visible systems and infrastructure
  • Let’s now dwell more into these ideas.

The first two quadrants – Individual Inner and Individual Outer relate to the development of the leader.

Individual Inner / Inner Leader – In an organization this refers to leaders’ sense of purpose, character, values, thoughts, emotions, moods, intentions, and the meaning they make out of events.

Our inner world is an important driver of our outer behaviors, often subconsciously. While others may make assumptions about these, they cannot know anything about this internal world unless the leader tells them.

Successful leaders have a strong self-belief. They know they can make a real difference in the situation they are leading. It is difficult to attract followers when you offer an uncertain way forward.

Getting in touch with your inner leader:

  • How often do you notice the beliefs, thoughts, assumptions, or feelings that you or others experience or express?
  • How aware are you of your own “self-talk”? What are its characteristics?
  • Look back on a difficulty you’ve experienced recently. Visualize the place and the people. Listen again to what was said and how it was said.
  • As you recall these things, try also to recall physical sensations. Re-live that experience as vividly as you can.
  • Do you notice if unrecognized assumptions or beliefs influenced the outcome of the situation?
  • Did your inner dialogue change? In what way?

Individual Outer / Outer Leader -This is to do with the leader’s behavior, habits and practices. It focuses on what we do and how we act in the world. It is what others observe of us and how they know us.

Increasingly, leaders are expected to behave with integrity (even though there have been many recent notable exceptions in the business world).

Managers expect their leaders to speak their vision, be inspiring and walk their talk.

Getting in touch with the outer leader:

How do you respond to the need to express the following qualities? Are you ever concerned that your actions may be misinterpreted?

Congruence – Do your actions always “line up” with what you say? Are they congruent with your values and the values you express to colleagues?

Do you ever wear a ‘mask’ ensuring that you do not ‘betray’ what you are feeling? Is that necessary?

In a recent challenging situation, did you notice how people actually behaved, and how others responded to that behavior?

Have you noticed how other people’s behavior has influenced the outcome of a situation adversely? What might they have done differently? How could you have responded differently to support a positive outcome next time?

Do you have time and space to reflect on these issues? To make sure you distil the lessons from your experiences?

These next two quadrants relate to the development of the organization.

Organizational Inner – This has to do with a group’s social and cultural patterns. It includes how relationships are formed, the norms that govern social interactions, and the way people communicate with each other.

These are all aspects of this ‘organizational inner.’

Typically this depicts all those interactions and on-goings which hinge on a person to person relationships.

It’s often called ‘The-way-things-are-done-around-here.’

If you are new to a group or team, you quickly find out how powerful this hidden world is! Transgress its unwritten rules or stumble across invisible barriers and you’ll quickly turn heads.

What if you are new, and hired specifically to introduce change?

Thinking about a recent situation in which you were the leader

What “people issues” were present in the situation? How did you and others listen, speak, and engage with other people, and how did that influence the outcome of this situation?

Did you discover (or suspect) and ‘unwritten rules? How did you recognize them?

Do you have any awareness of how your assumptions differ from those of the people you locked horns with? Do you need to know? How will you find out?

Organizational Outer –This comprises all the systems, processes and strategies of the business.

It is the observable way the company goes about its business. It includes physical elements like buildings, systems like tools, hardware and software and the technical aspects of the work.

The effects on performance can be disastrous if the network goes down or the company finds itself with competitors who have state of the art equipment or machinery.

Again, think about a recent event.

What were the physical surroundings for the situation?

How did the use of infrastructure (machinery, tools and other physical resources) help or hinder the outcome of this situation?

Let’s draw leadership development and organizational development together

In terms of leadership and organizational development, we tend to focus our attention on the individual and organizational outer.

We concentrate on what we can see. We often do that because we believe this is what we can influence, or this is most urgent.

This can lead to repeated fire-fighting; consistently returning to crisis mode.

Almost invariably real leverage for sustained growth and planned development resides in the inner aspects of individuals and organizations.

Increasingly leadership development approaches see the need to address the inner leader, and organizational development the inner culture of the organization.

In the current competitive world, a concerted effort towards seeing the unseen, knowing the unknowns, defining the intangibles, leveraging the intangibles, recognizing the value-adds and balancing the short, medium and long-term goals and objectives have become extremely relevant.

Building a mechanism wherein developing leaders and organization goes hand-in-hand is a very important ingredient in the growth story of any organization.