How to Survive and Thrive in Imperfect Organizations
You’re surrounded by imperfection. Everyone has a handful of strengths and a bucketful of weaknesses.
If strengths smelled like warm cookies and weaknesses smelled like wet dog, everyone would stink.
Overcome frustration with imperfection by accepting imperfection in yourself AND others.
3 truths about acceptance:
- Acceptance isn’t approval.
- Acceptance isn’t giving up.
- Acceptance is the foundation for influence and improvement.
You can’t antagonize and influence at the same time.
Say it out loud:
I accept my boss.
I accept my organization.
I accept the people on my team.
Four options If you can’t accept your imperfect boss, organization, or team.
- Get a new boss.
- Get a new team.
- Get a new organization.
- First, change yourself.
Frustrated people focus on changing others. But success begins when you first change yourself.
Work to change yourself before working to change others.
- “What should I do?” comes before, “They should.”
- “How might I change?” comes before, “They need to change.”
- “What can I learn?” comes before, “I need to teach them.”
Meddle with yourself before you meddle with others.
- You’re frustrated with silos in your organization. What are you allowing that causes or sustains silos?
- You feel left out of the loop. How are you leaving people out of the loop?
- A team member irritates you. How might this team member reflect something that needs to change in you?
- Lack of clear direction at work frustrates you. How might you seek direction?
- Others are boring. What if you’re boring?
Reflecting on imperfection in others is self-affirming. But self-reflection is where growth begins.
You may be superior to others, but leaders don’t stand aloof.
Walk around honoring and respecting the good, even while improving deficiencies.
When irritated, think, “Who do I need to become so I can lead imperfect others?”
How might leaders survive and thrive in imperfect organizations?
Ha, ha! I saw your title and thought, “He means ALL organizations!” My favorite saying these days is – “The world needs ALL OF US!”. And that’s because we all have strengths and weaknesses, and we all support and get supported in our various areas of (in)competence….
Thanks Betty. love the way you wrote (in)competence. It captures both ideas. We have competence and we have incompetence. One of the challenges of leadership is coming to grips with our incompetence.
Thanks Dan! As usual, your points are spot on! I am going to keep this one as a printed desk reference to check in with myself regularly. Self-leadership is key.
Thanks Daphne. Bingo – “Self-leadership is key.” Best for the journey.
This stands out from above for me: Change:
Frustrated people focus on changing others. But success begins when you first change yourself. So since I’ve always recognized that ALL are imperfect (including myself) I seek to find ways to work with, work around, or use the strengths and/or weaknesses of both myself and others to get the job done. Am I always successful in this effort; “of course not” but my batting average is pretty high. The more experience I have gained and continue to gain I’ve found I can weave my way thru the various strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes you have to punt since the strengths (yes some can be too strong) and/or weaknesses of both yourself and others just don’t match up with getting movement forward. As long as you learn from those experiences you’ve made some movement.
Thanks Roger. The idea of fit seems central to success. Not every talented person fits in every organization. It useful to realize that talent isn’t the only factor for success. Cheers
Great blog. I passed onto my son. All of us have worked in organizations which at times seem enlightened and at time seem backward.
I especially liked that Acceptance is not Approval or even agreement.
Thanks Brad. Sometimes younger people feel frustration over the imperfections of organizational life. We should just play dead. But, it helps to come to grips with the idea that imperfection is part of life in all it’s glory. Best to your son.
Great topic and article. There is one issue with this approach, though, which touches everyone prone to depression. Thinking how I do, develop, could be better or could do better is printed deeply into the brooding mind of a person who has the mental wiring prone to depression. Diving deeper into brooding like this might push this person into a real state of depression, causing the others in the work environment to shun and separate from this person. Or there might be a backlash in uncivil conduct towards the colleagues, which could have even worse repercussions.
Starting with me is a tight rope walk, as it seems. Starting with us is a more productive way to improve the working environment, taking the brooding and self-doubting mind away from the constant whine of me-me-me.
Very good advice.
Interesting to hear. Will try this at work. I don’t want to blame the organisation however I do. You have now made me think how am I contributing to the organisation. Thanks for this timely point