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What Hinders Innovation? A Leadership Culture of Fear

At the conclusion of my webinar Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast I ask the question: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

How many of us limit our potential and thus reduce our level of employee engagement because we fear repercussions from our behavior or judgement by our peers?

In many workplace cultures, a culture of fear governs people’s behavior. We fear not having enough which can lead to control and greed. We fear not being appreciated, loved or respected enough which can leads manipulation, and blame. We fear not being good enough which can lead to bureaucracy, information hoarding, and silo mentality.
When it comes to innovation and creativity, how many of us will not put forward an idea out of fear of not being right, or we wait for that one piece of data that will ensure it’s acceptable. And eventually the idea loses its timeliness and the opportunity for collaborative inspiration passes.

An excerpt from the book Conscious Culture , by Joanna Barclay
A few years ago, Shell CEO Peter Voser laid out a bold vision for Shell to become the most innovative energy company. Inspired by this call to action, chemical engineer Mandar Apte, part of Shell’s Game Changer program, designed the Empower initiative – an educational, staff-led curriculum that uses meditation exercises sourced from the International Association for Human Values to build individual capacity and enable creativity and innovation.
Apte: “Innovation starts with an idea, a hunch, a gut feeling. You don’t really know whether it’s going to be successful or if it’s going to fail unless you try it. You keep doing small things one at a time and you have small wins. Even failures tell you something, so you go back and you analyze. Innovation is a process.”

And with Empower, staff are provided with tools to develop greater emotional intelligence and inner resilience to improve focus and overcome failure.

Apte: “One has to learn how to drop the old habits, the old ideas, the old concepts, and taking a pause from the business of today, create a gap in your mind from the train of thoughts. That’s what meditation allows you. It gives you tools and techniques to pause. The second step involves social processes and interpersonal skills. If you can invoke compassion or empathy in yourself, where you are not judging yourself, you’re not criticizing yourself, nor are you judging somebody else, then I think there is a space for insights to be created. These qualities are crucial for grooming your own innovative skills and nourishing the innovation culture in an organization.”

The challenge for leaders is how to measure the return on investment, and gauge the impact and success of programs like Empower. At Shell they decided to capture anecdotal evidence through stories of empowerment that changed the culture and people’s work habits.

Apte: “Some stories are about how people have been able to make unique connections. By nature they may not have chosen to interact with somebody else, but through the Empower techniques, they have built connections that are beyond their traditional skill pool. It’s through such connections that you can start thinking about non-traditional ideas. That is how you can leverage someone else and together, co-create something. It’s not an “I-win-and-you-lose” world. It’s a world where I need to think about how I can win and how I can make you win. The third kind of story we measure is when a group of staff have gone through the Empower program and then they organize a workshop for their peers… creating a culture of empowerment around them.”

What impact has Empower had on helping Shell employees become better leaders?

Apte: “I think everybody is a leader and everybody strives to do the best they can. The Empower program, because it is based on breathing and meditation techniques, is a tool-set that you walk away with and can practice every day. It’s like running a marathon. You have to do the meditation practices every day to build your capacity to overcome the blocks to your own innovation and creativity. Secondly, regular meditation practice helps develop positive habits that will support you and the company to be creative and more innovative. I think Empower has provided these self-development tools to staff and empowered them to play a role in the innovation culture”.

Be sure to visit our Resource Center for valuable leadership development resources

Our E-learning Seminar – Building Your High Performing Workplace.

To find out what your personal values are that empower you to higher performance and productivity, take a Free Personal Values Assessment.

To learn how well aligned you are with the culture in your organization contact us for an – Individual Values Assessment

To learn how to map, measure and manage the culture of your team or organization with our Culture Value Assessment for Teams and Organizations.

Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Contact Us Joanna BarclayJoanna Barclay, Speaker, Author, Leadership Consultant building high performing values-driven organizational culture.

With 30 years in business transformation working with organizations, Joanna’s passion lies in working with leaders, facilitating active participation in organizational change, developing resourceful teams and aligning strategic objectives. Her goal is to help organizations become high performing and values-driven, where people take ownership, build commitment and bridge communication gaps. As CEO of the Culture Leadership Group, she ensures successful transformation from concept through to implementation.

 

 

Engaging and Empowering Employees with Facilitative Leadership

Leading discussions where participants are engaged in focused conversations, sharing perspectives, learning from each other, is a very effective form of continuous learning and facilitative leadership. When people are treated as equals and given accountability in the decision making process, they feel empowered to take ownership and responsibility for the solutions. Continuous learning, accountability, engagement, empowerment, and teamwork are the successful elements needed for successful transformation and high performance.

– Remember the last time you sat around with your colleagues, discussing a problem, there was energy in the room, camaraderie, everyone was participating, and contributing to solving the issue?
– Do you recall the sense of connectedness you felt, and level of commitment it generated?
– Didn’t it feel good being asked to collaborate, share your knowledge and experience, and make decisions that would make a difference?
– How successful was the implementation because you had shared goals and a way to achieve them?

Instead of facilitating by “the seat of your pants” and instinct, I would like to invite you to learn Group Facilitation Methods that teach leaders how to design and lead the most effective focused conversations. Some of my clients have even called the processes “Group Coaching”.

The power in the Group Facilitation Methods is learning how to ask the right questions at the right time. How does the human mind think? What role do our emotions play in decision making to ensure ownership and responsibility? How do you combine both the intellect and emotions to get the best results from a focused conversation? These questions and more are answered on the course.

Below are a few comments from Richard Saucier, Director, Treasury Board Secretariat, who attended the course in June 2013:

“I really enjoyed the course. It provided useful methods to interact with people, especially the meetings I need to chair. The structure of the group facilitation methods makes sure all the important aspects of a topic are covered, especially the emotional.”

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them” Albert Einstein

To lead change and transformation leaders need to create new consciousness (awareness) and sense of connectedness to build real commitment. Knowing how to design conversations that develop new thinking, and internal cohesion leads to greater success.

Group Facilitation Methods learning objectives:
– Access the wisdom of the group
– Improve horizontal communications
– Engage and empower participation
– Develop new awareness and connectedness
– Build commitment
– Strengthen harmonious teamwork

The course comes with the book “The Art of Focused Conversation” – 100 Ways to Access Group Wisdom in the Workplace.
Plus one hour of free coaching.

In-house courses are available upon request, with a maximum of 20 participants.
Contact Us for more information about how we can customize a program for you.

How would you like to become a leader that is known for empowering their people and achieving successful change?

 

Be sure to visit our Resource Center for valuable leadership development resources

Our E-learning Seminar – Building Your High Performing Workplace.

To find out what your personal values are that empower you to higher performance and productivity, take a Free Personal Values Assessment.

To learn how well aligned you are with the culture in your organization contact us for an – Individual Values Assessment

To learn how to map, measure and manage the culture of your team or organization with our Culture Value Assessment for Teams and Organizations.

Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Contact Us Joanna BarclayJoanna Barclay, Speaker, Author, Leadership Consultant building high performing values-driven organizational culture.

With 30 years in business transformation working with organizations, Joanna’s passion lies in working with leaders, facilitating active participation in organizational change, developing resourceful teams and aligning strategic objectives. Her goal is to help organizations become high performing and values-driven, where people take ownership, build commitment and bridge communication gaps. As CEO of the Culture Leadership Group, she ensures successful transformation from concept through to implementation.

 

Fear of Empowerment

Fear of Empowerment

Yesterday I sent an email to my clients entitled – Engaging and Empowering Leadership, letting them know about a workshop to develop Facilitative Leadership skills – Group Facilitation Methods.

I received some valuable feedback I’d like to share with you that relates to empowerment.

The idea of empowerment and giving staff decision making power creates fear in leaders, especially in a culture where there is a high level of risk aversion. When the Canadian government introduced the Accountability Act several year ago, the impact this had was it created a work environment where there was a low tolerance for risk. This moved control for decision making to the top of organizations.

Taking away decision making power has several effects. It creates an environment of control which is potential limiting to people’s desire to lead and contribute, share ideas, be creative and innovative. When a leader imposes their will over others, it takes away the others’ will power and sense of responsibility.

In a high performing workplace culture, leaders want staff to take ownership and responsibility for identifying problems and solving them. How can a leader expect this behaviour if they have taken away the will power and ability to take ownership and responsibility for making decisions?

To create high performing cultures, leaders must live the values they wish to see. If they want people to take ownership and responsibility they need to let go of control. With a fear of empowerment there will be low employee engagement, low productivity, low morale and low performance.

To improve performance, employees need to be engaged and empowered to make decisions for the things they have control over. It takes conscious leadership to reflect and take ownership for the limiting values and behaviours being imposed on staff.

Organizational transformation begins with the personal transformation of the leaders. Organizations don’t transform, people do

So as a leader, open your door and invite staff to share their valuable ideas. Being a good listener is a powerful facilitative leadership competency. It make people feel appreciated and you learn a lot from them. We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Your people are the ones doing the work and have valuable experience and knowledge to share that can improve performance. When they are performing and contributing their full potential, the whole organization benefits.

Be sure to visit our Resource Center for valuable leadership development resources

Our E-learning Seminar – Building Your High Performing Workplace.

To find out what your personal values are that empower you to higher performance and productivity, take a Free Personal Values Assessment.

To learn how well aligned you are with the culture in your organization contact us for an – Individual Values Assessment

To learn how to map, measure and manage the culture of your team or organization with our Culture Value Assessment for Teams and Organizations.

Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Contact Us Joanna BarclayJoanna Barclay, Speaker, Author, Leadership Consultant building high performing values-driven organizational culture.

With 30 years in business transformation working with organizations, Joanna’s passion lies in working with leaders, facilitating active participation in organizational change, developing resourceful teams and aligning strategic objectives. Her goal is to help organizations become high performing and values-driven, where people take ownership, build commitment and bridge communication gaps. As CEO of the Culture Leadership Group, she ensures successful transformation from concept through to implementation.