“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The traditional workplace has not encouraged us to be our authentic Self. It has not been big enough to house the human soul. Its culture has been one of punching our time card and doing the daily tasks of building gadgets, meeting client needs, devising strategy and completing administration. We have been expected to do at work, but how much have we been encouraged to be?
In my experience of working with teams, there is a hunger for people to have a voice in the organization. They want to bring more of themselves to work. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to do so; however organizational culture needs reform to create greater room for individuals to safely express the fullness of who they are.
There are two responsibilities of an organization:
1. Operations Responsibility ~ The Level of Doing: Organizations spend most of their time here. It is where the tasks at hand are the primary focus – planning, budgeting, product development, current and potential challenges etc. Just look at how your Monday meetings are run. You go straight to the doing. But what about the being?
2. Social Responsibility ~ The Level of Being: A socially responsible organization supports employees to feel empowered in the workplace. Emphasis is on how people are feeling and how able they are to express themselves and contribute in creative ways. Organizations often do not make this a priority even though it is the foundation for all successful operations.
Five specific ways people want to feel empowered in the workplace:
- Authentic: Free to be human/ silly/ messy/ bold/ direct – not bound by expectations of what it means to be a professional.
- Open & Expressed: Free to share ideas, feelings, concerns and beliefs.
- Creative: Free to be self-governing, try on new ideas, get messy, and scribble outside the lines.
- Shared Responsibility: Free to let go of control and trust others will take initiative and responsibility.
- Self-Care: Free to put oneself first, say No and ask for help.
To practice social responsibility, employees need to feel safe to make these empowering choices. Communication and awareness systems called cultural agreements need to be put in place to act as a container for social responsibility. Agreements include:
- Authentic: Valuing being real and natural. Blurring the line between personal and professional so all of oneself is brought to work.
- Open & Expressed: Hearing and validating feelings and concerns. Considering ideas and offering an explanation if they are not implemented on a consistent basis. Clearing assumptions and conflict through direct communication (versus gossip).
- Creative: Encouraging people to think outside the box and blaze new imaginative trails. Seeing the health and growth of the organization as being dependent on this.
- Shared Responsibility: Understanding that roles are meant to be shared so responsibilities are balanced within the organization.
- Self-Care: Saying No and asking for help; no one is meant to do it alone, or take on more than what feels right. The organization supports doing great work with personal wellbeing.
Responsibility of Everyone
With empowerment and freedom comes responsibility. For these needs to be met and agreements practiced, each person is responsible for:
- Being conscious of the impact they are having on others and the room.
- Using language that is respectful to others.
- Noticing personal reactions and being curious of their role in conflict.
- Speaking up and sharing their voice.
- Stepping back, and allowing others to offer their opinions and ideas.
- Delegating responsibility, asking for help and trusting others will follow through.
- Following through on their word, and communicating if they cannot do what they said they would.
- Supporting others to feel empowered and not slip back into familiar roles.
- Being authentic and emotionally intelligent.
Everyone’s responsibility is to do their inner work in the form of communication and awareness training so they can take further responsibility for their experiences and feel greater empowerment. Once they do, they move from being victim to leader and the organizational culture is transformed.
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The 5 Needs of Employees ~ Keynote: Building an Inspired, Engaged & Creative Workplace
Leadership from the Inside Out: Opportunity to Learn, Safe to Be Reflective, Empowered to Take Action
Teacher as Leader: Empowering Authentic & Co-Created Learning