If so, you aren’t alone. The world is changing too fast. Just in the last few years, there has been a major shift in the way that consumers, stakeholders and employees view the role of business. It’s no longer enough to be profitable. Companies are now expected to make a positive impact on society. Younger generations too are demanding careers that allow them to contribute to a better world.
To meet these new demands and stay competitive in today’s business environment, executives around the globe reportedly agree that deeper levels of collaboration and innovation across boundaries are necessary. However, they’re concerned that their leaders and teams don’t have the critical skills to rise above conflict, embrace change, and create new opportunities.
With higher speeds of change, increased uncertainty and more complex problems, organizations that don’t evolve at all levels may cease to exist.
At InspiraWork, we hear from a lot of our clients across various industries that their team members are struggling with the rapid pace of change, are working in silos, and are holding back from speaking up. Pressed for time and pressured for results, they’re worried and uncertain about how to navigate unfamiliar circumstances, technology and people. In fact, when we survey our clients’ employees, we consistently hear the following concerns:
- Lack of transparency and clarity about changes
- Fear of losing job security
- New roles, new leaders, and new team members
- Unclear division of labor
- Operating in silos
- Juggling multiple “fires” and unable to do deep, strategic work
- Unsatisfactory work/life balance
- Hard to stay energized and inspired
- How to stay relevant
- Discomfort with giving feedback
- Lack of empathy, leading to conflict and disengagement
It’s not surprising—when we are lacking information or unsure of what the future holds, we get stressed and anxious. When this happens, we often don’t show up as our best selves or think creatively about how to achieve success. Fear of the unknown holds us back from taking risks and sharing new ideas.
Also, when we’re not taking the time to connect and really know one another, we get stuck in conflict that hinders productivity, misassumptions that delay progress, and silos that limit our collective strengths. This division across so many aspects of our society is holding us back, when the future is pleading with us to move forward, together.
In order to inspire hope, get the best out of our teams and be prepared to successfully lead our organizations into a wildly unknown future, we need Courageous Civility.
Courageous Civility is the ability to think bigger, act bolder, and collaborate better to create positive change – even when it’s hard.
And yes, it’s hard. It’s hard to change mindsets and eliminate mental models that no longer serve us well. Leaders in the past were taught to focus solely on results and do whatever was necessary to generate profits. Today’s leaders must think beyond financial metrics. They must be more aware and intentional about how they are showing up and their impact on others. This requires more compassionate leadership, shifting the focus from individual power to collective purpose.
It’s also hard to stay upbeat and remain relevant when technology keeps changing, competition is fiercer than ever, and people are demanding more.
The latest Edelman Trust Barometer confirms that people are looking to businesses to improve society. CEOs are no longer just responsible for creating profit, they are now responsible for creating societal change.
This is backed by the 2020 data that says the following:
- 92% of employees surveyed “expect their employers’ CEO to speak up on one or more issues ranging from income inequality to diversity and training for jobs of the future.”
- 73% of employees surveyed are seeking an employer who gives them “the opportunity to shape the future of society in a positive way.”
In the 2019 report, two thirds of consumers surveyed said that they buy based on their beliefs, and 81% agree that a top purchasing factor is buying from a brand they can trust.
With technology becoming smarter and the pace of change becoming faster, organizations that don’t develop their people and culture will fall behind. In fact, research shows that companies that are driven by purpose are evolving faster than others. For example, our client, Bohler, has taken the lead on transforming their brand and their mission to provide an unrivaled consulting an employment experience. Under the direction of their CEO and President Adam Volanth, Bohler partnered with their clients and their employees to create a new vision and a plan that would achieve long-term success for their employees, their clients, and the organization as a whole. This included a company-wide investment in developing their people with the modern skills and mindset necessary to “empower the ambitious to become the accomplished.” The result is an organization that is more engaged, empowered, and prepared for the future.
Innovation is and will continue to be a critical differentiator between organizations that succeed and those that fail. At the core of innovation is diversity of thought and a propensity to challenge the status quo.
Research shows that organizations produce better financial results and greater innovation when their teams are inclusive of diverse individuals and work in an environment where it’s safe to speak up.
How do we create an environment where people embrace their differences and feel safe to speak up? How do we move toward contribution-based cultures where everyone is leveraging their unique strengths and is driven by a collective purpose?
Develop a Culture of Courageous Civility so that your teams can work across silos and differences to create positive change, together.
There are three pillars at the core of Courageous Civility:
- Think Bigger. Understand that you have a choice in every circumstance. You can choose to be the victim and be limited in your success, or you can be empowered and accountable for creating a better reality, seeing challenges as opportunities to succeed.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, “fears are still stifling hope.” 83% of employees surveyed are worried about job loss, 61% of the general population surveyed fear the pace of technological change is moving faster than they can handle, and in developed countries, less than 50% of people believe they will be better off in 5 years.
This pillar is about inspiring hope. At InspiraWork, we help people see that they have the power to create positive change, and that it starts with our mindset.
For example, Jamie, a partner at a law firm had been struggling to accept feedback from peers. After learning InspiraWork’s UpSpiral Leader model, Jamie reported: “In receiving feedback, I am approaching my continued practice as making me a better leader and a happier person, rather than getting defensive about it and feeling bad. I am appreciating the opportunity I have been given.”
- Act Bolder. When you know yourself and what you stand for, you can act bolder, taking the initiative and accountability to create change and help others do the same.
For example, Pat, a manager at an engineering firm was struggling to influence team members. After learning about different personality styles and practicing InspiraWork’s Flex and Chat techniques, Pat reported, “Adjusting my style to be better understood has worked miracles. Just by simply changing my approach to better match with the person I’m speaking with has had immediate success.”
Also, Ronnie, an emerging leader at a fintech company, found InspiraWork’s Intention Setting technique to be most impactful. Ronnie shared, “By taking the initiative to share my positive intention at the beginning of a conversation, I am not misperceived and I get the same positive result. I now feel like I have so many practical, progressive leadership tools for any situation.”
- Collaborate better. When you lead collectively across silos and differences, you can develop and deliver creative solutions that rally people to work together toward collective success.
For example, Corey, a manager at an insurance company had to coach an employee through a conflict with a co-worker. After attending InspiraWork’s program, Corey realized that the employee had been making negative assumptions about the co-worker. Using InspiraWork’s Flip tool, Corey coached the frustrated employee to reframe the situation by seeing a perspective other than her own. According to Corey, “This led to improved collaboration between the two employees in the end.” Corey too benefited from InspiraWork’s Flip tool. “I find myself practicing the Flip Technique daily at work and at home when I become frustrated in various situations I have found that this has helped me manage my stress.”
When we think bigger, act bolder, and collaborate better, we can solve the complex problems of today and create solutions for a better tomorrow, together.
In upcoming posts, we’ll be breaking down each of these three pillars of Courageous Civility. We’ll help you understand what each pillar consists of and how to build these leadership capabilities in your organization.
You can be the force to lead your organization into the future. Lead with Courageous Civility now.
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