Getting beyond the unpredictable
It would be difficult to dispute that we live in extraordinary and unpredictable times. In just six months two national votes have turned the world, or at least our view of it, on its head.
In this mix of upheaval, and our bewilderment, is the failure of a tried and tested mechanism to nail what would happen in those two (UK and US) world-changing votes. Right now we can likely conclude opinion polls no longer work.
And if that’s so what implications does it hold for the workplace and that particular instrument the annual employee engagement survey? Can we rely on what it is telling us, trust our ensuing insights and the actions we take, or not, as a result?
Of course these surveys have a place but they’re really just a mechanical process for measuring something organic and fluid – an emotional and psychological climate and in my view, therefore, unlikely to be able to tell us what’s really going on.
Outstanding at connection…
When it comes to it the mood we create in our organisations is down to the way we lead and connect with our people. As leaders we need to be pretty good at many things, but there are a few areas where we need to be outstanding…
- In our commitment to seeing every interaction as an opportunity to engage with others – making engagement priority number one.
- In investing in relationships, building and maintaining them, ensuring they’re healthy and open and allow us to really understand how people are feeling rather than filling the gaps with assumption and judgement.
- In communication that’s genuinely two-way…characterised by an obvious desire to hear the other and deep listening not just to the words but for the meaning in the energetic field too (Otto Scharmer’s work will help here).
- In communicating the serious stuff in a way that’s relevant so the other person understands the difference they can make and wants to do so – more human speak, less corporate message.
- In a clear purpose expressed in every thought, decision and action so our colleagues can truly experience who we are.
- In an investment in ourselves and the lifelong journey of growing our emotional intelligence.
Of course these aren’t new competencies or even specific to leaders. They’re aspects of our humanness that make a difference to the difference we can make with and through others.
Oh, and if any more ‘evidence’ was needed about the value of connection (and the ‘death’ of opinion polls) you may have spotted that Oxford Dictionaries has declared ‘post-truth’ its 2016 international word of the year, primarily reflecting the shift in the political climate.
It is defined as an adjective for situations in which objective facts are less influential on public opinion than emotional appeals. Presumably its elevation to word of the year wasn’t decided by opinion poll!