Our society became a whole lot harder since the digitisation started taking over our world. During this process politicians have lost connection with the people. Politics is now something that happens far above our heads, in a galaxy far far away. Somehow, this has always been a little bit that way, but the gap between the people and the politicians is bigger than ever.
In the workplace we experience the same disconnection between leaders and employees. And so, a lot of organisations are already taking measures and reorganising their way of working: customer involvement, empowerment of people via self-organising teams,… How is it that many of the organisations fail in their attempts to connect? Is it because their internal politicians don’t know/understand how to connect with the majority of their customers or employees anymore?
This digital era was supposed to bring us closer together. Technology and social media are the recipe for this cocktail. But it seems that in a professional context we had one too many and so far it turns out that it isn’t making us better ‘together’ yet. There are a lot of positives for sure, but the connecting part on an interpersonal level is questionable. It is why people like Isabel De Clercq are essential to guide organisations in their journey to adopt a connecting way of communicating whilst using social networks within organisations. Besides the professional context, our society as a whole became a whole lot harder at the same time, e.g. especially when commenting from behind a keyboard and screen. Generally speaking, everybody is thinking more about themselves, and we forget to serve something more than ourselves. It is what it is today; it’s what we made of it and how we thought it would be beneficial for everybody when we were at the crack of dawn of this digital (4th industrial) revolution. And you know what? If it doesn’t work, it will evolve in something else. And that is exactly what is happening now. A lot of people are fed up with the self-centric way of living of their leaders and are desperately looking for ways to connect with each other again. Look at all the movements that are starting up to preserve our planet so we could have a better tomorrow. Look at the people who are striking because a company is taking measures to downsize when technology is pushing other employees out. Look at all the people who are working together to raise funds for charity. Look at the discontentment of the people when politicians are playing ‘house of cards’ so openly they forget about the reasons why they were elected (to serve the people). Nevertheless, it seems the leadership, both in a political and a professional context, isn’t accepting the open invitation the people are giving them.
“Everybody comes from a different place, everybody has their own lens, their own perspective. The moment you invalidate someone else’s perspective, you dehumanize them.”Shivani Ranchod
The current games of politics dehumanize our communities
Contemporary politicians seem to be loving their delusional world, a world they’ve created for themselves, a world about power and games. The political class is so high up in the hierarchical system, they’ve lost touch with the average Joe of society.
The same phenomenon is often noticeable inside big organisations with their big hierarchical structures. Ask the managing director or CEO of a (big) company what their employees are thinking or feeling about the company they work for, and you’ll probably end up with a very uninspired answer like: ”Our latest employee satisfaction survey showed that…”. Well, it showed that you have a process in place to measure, but are missing out on getting in touch with your people. When was the last time you, as a CEO, had a cup of coffee with one of your employees in the working place who isn’t a manager? What the employees experience inside hierarchical organisations is the same as they experience when a politician is explaining the fact that they want the best for the people. “We hear you”, leadership would say, when in actual fact they haven’t really listened, either because they don’t care enough, or worse, because it’s not in their best interest.
Today, people are still working their way up, using ‘politics’ to get to the level that serves their own personal benefit. Nothing wrong with climbing the ladder, but when you’re only looking at yourself in the process, that will be one of the main reasons people start to disconnect with you as a leader. Something to keep in mind.
And so, it’s time to rethink organisational politics in a time when organisations are facing uncertain futures because of the disruptive digital revolution. Don’t worry, everything is alright! What you’re looking for is already there. It will all start with trust, and trusting each other is something we all have to relearn. It’s easier said than done when you look at communities, society or organisations nowadays. At work, we rather doubt our colleagues or direct reports than credit and trust them. So it will be quite the mission to guide the leadership inside an organisation towards a changed behaviour when it comes to trust: “Trust is something that you have to earn!”, they say. What the leadership should learn to understand is that a leader without followers isn’t leading. It’s a job title that indicated a leader should lead, when it’s the person and his actions that defines whether the person is leading or not. So maybe trust is something we should give in stead of making people earn it.
The era of new leadership has arrived
New ways of working define a new type of leadership. It’s about serving, coaching, inspiring and collaborating. The typical and autocratic way of leading as a manager is disappearing as the ideal leadership style. Quite logic when you think about the fact you start empowering the employees. When you do so, you need to validate their ideas, opinions and decisions. There is no room for contemporary politics when you want to be fully transparent with you internal teams and people. Yes, you’re right, it is very much about values: openness, transparency, courage, commitment, honesty. There is no more room for power games benefiting personal interests in these days’ modern organisations. The mojo should be: Stop politics, start trusting! Relearn leaders how to care for those who are now empowered in decision taking. Redesign leadership and prioritize their human capital. Leaders, it’s time to actually lead by example and stop dwelling about a preferred future state. If you lead, you’ll get to that future state without overthinking it, but by just doing it!
“Great expectations are better than poor possessions”Miguel De Cervantes
So how do get started? Understand the sociological changes in forming organisations. Have a clear view on the psychological advantages of soft competences in the workplace: soft skills are flourishing you know?! Align all leaders about vision, mission, beliefs and values. A thorough understanding of the new ways of working will help leaders to grow into their new role. The talent you’re looking for, is – most of the times – already present inside your organisation. Work with the talents instead of replacing them by so called experts. The people inside your company that are willing to grow and get the opportunity presented, will bring engagement, commitment and respect for others to the table. It will benefit your organisation. And for the roles nobody feels qualified yet, look for passionate people who are able to inspire!
Let’s make stronger bonded organisations.
A tough nut to crack?
Let’s build them on trust.
Stop politics, start trusting!