Moving Stagnant Organizations
Every team has a few passionate leaders chomping at the bit to create the future. But, dead weight weighs them down.
Most teams lead by consensus, the lowest common denominator.
I believe in leading with teams but struggle with drifters, underperformers, and the fearful who hold organizations back.
It’s frustrating when playing it safe is success, for example.
- Leaders who have retired in their positions.
- Politically adept but leadership deficient chair holders.
- Organizational cultures that honor silence and punish candor.
- Lack of intention to build high performance teams that press into the future.
One unselfish person with passion,
skill, courage, and patience changes things.
First, identify untapped opportunities:
- Few resources.
- Low cost.
- Observable results.
- Ignites your passion.
Look for something you can lead, not others.
Focus on bringing positive benefit not solving problems or pushing dead weight. Maintain positive focus. Most importantly, forget about convincing the entire team to join you.
Second, leverage allies:
- Approach people of influence and bring up your list of untapped opportunities. “I’ve been mulling over…”
- Avoid selling your ideas, just lay them out. Ask for more.
- Look for something that makes their eyes twinkle and explore it.
- Never develop ideas with people who don’t care. Leave them behind if you must.
Have coffee-conversations and toss ideas around until a few bubble to the top. Don’t push people, ignite them. Pushing invites resistance.
Third, pull the trigger:
- Choose an opportunity with the most supporters. (Back to looking for the twinkling eyes)
- Take personal responsibility. “I’m moving forward with …”
- Ask for suggestions.
- Develop and share your plan with influencers who buy-in.
- Do it on a small scale and share results.
- Don’t apologize if criticized; own it.
Look for the biggest bang for the fewest bucks. Remember, something is better than nothing.
How can frustrated leaders create positive impact in organizations where leadership teams are dead weight?
This is great. So often I see folks waiting to be “assigned” a “special project.” Often the most transformational work emerges organically through a true passion.
You make me think of the importance of instilling courage in others so they will follow their passion. Thank you
I could almost think yo are working in my company. To move dead weight should consider giving this deads’ some activities even those are just for document fulfilling. They can think they’re useful for a while and help yo to move on with the main decisions.
I like the concept of inclusion when possible. Thank you
I agree that some of the retired leaders with orthodox philosophy stagnates the organization. I also agree that pushing invites resistance. So, it is a challenge of emerging leaders to push their ideas workable. Generally organizations have both generation leaders. They have different mindsets and attitudes. And generally problems occur because of difference in mindsets and attitudes. So, it is infact challenge for new and emerging leaders. They should better understand the workplace dynamix. This will help them to position themselves. Frustrated leaders generally create positive impact on the cost of others efforts.They know how to create impact anyhow.
Good leaders move the organizations by initiating, inspiring and influencing. They initiate the effort and inspire others through their examples. And this in turn influence people. So, to move stagnant organization, leaders need to have multi approach that can create a culture of awareness, openness and performance.
My take away today, Ajay is about awareness of organizational cultures. Those wanting to change things are navigating a mine field. Of course too much focus on the mines and they give up.
Reblogged this on willowcreeksa.
Can’t think of a column I have not liked Dan, BUT this one is your best! I have run into your Obstacles throughout my career, especially in large organizations. Why large organizations, more places to hide.
Ajay is spot on regarding creating a culture of awareness, openness and performance. So often senior leaders insulate themselves from their organization to the point they have no idea what their organization’s culture is. I repeatedly see this when I conduct safety climate surveys. Senior leaders read the survey and are stunned.
We have entirely too much hubris in organizations, both public and private.
Today you have provided clear steps to overcoming dead weight and bringing a dead organization back to life.
Great seeing you Jim and thank you for your encouraging words. As you know, I respect you and your work.
“More places to hide” in big organizations… bingo! To exacerbate the problem…more things to protect.
Don’t forget that Kouzes & Posner show that people at the top don’t want feedback…(too much hubris).
Good metrics can help to drive away places to hide. Revenues per employee, % billable hours, free cash flow from operations, control charts, and other hard to falsify metrics are good motivators, especially if maintained by the people being measured, rather than by a separate department. Comparison should be with industry benchmarks, not with past performance. Top managers should have skin in the game, with special attention paid to align their interests with the organization’s purpose. Tasks should be organized broadly enough that all members of the organization see what their contribution is to the organization’s purpose. Ideally, the organization should be staffed just below the comfort zone, with resources somewhat more scarce than comfortable. People should be encouraged and recognized for focus on activities benefiting corporate purpose, rather than for doing many things.
Great stuff Marc. Thank you for sharing your insights.
Nicely said, “Ideally, the organization should be staffed just below the comfort zone, with resources somewhat more scarce than comfortable.”
The right amount of stress enhances performance…too much for too long and performance declines.
Love the comment ‘look for something you can lead not others’. Gives people something that is more achievable and focuses on the success.
Thanks for sharing!
I find people get stuck on what they think others should do. If we aren’t careful, focusing on what others should do becomes an excuse for us to do nothing. Thanks Melissa.
Focusing on opportunities more than obstacles is an important message. Thanks.
Sure is easy to sink into the darkness, at least for me. I need constant reminders that optimism takes us further than pessimism.
“Remember, something is better than nothing.” –true. We can easily give up in our frustration and leave without anything at all
I find it difficult to take a small bite of the elephant when the elephant seems so big! I want the whole thing
Great post, Dan!
I totally follow your statement ‘Most teams lead by consensus’. Teams can seriously damage their effectiveness and results by walking away from the sensitive topics. Truly aligned teams are able to deal successfully with conflicting opinions and points of view. They outperform other teams because of this.
Thanks for sharing.
Reblogged this on Mastermind Century Group and commented:
Leadership Freak at this best… in 300 words or less… thank you!