Google Analystics

Friday, 5 September 2014

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

Canada Geese. Source: NatureFramingham
In a professional on-line discussion group in LinkedIn that I follow, somebody posed the following question. How would you package the edict, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way" to your employees and colleagues so that everyone buys into it and nobody becomes offended?

The way I see it, this is about organizational culture, the way we do things, our principles and values and how these align for individuals, as a team and as an organization.

I do not have military exposure other than reading books, watching movies and talking with friends who were in the military but, clearly, whether soldiers 'shoot their own wounded' or 'leave no on behind', they don't think about that decision for the first time when they are confronted with the situation. It's in the training and in the culture and, long before, they know how they are going to act even if they hope the situation never arises. If a leader has to say, "Lead, follow or duck" in a crisis then that is way too late and will probably precipitate a crisis of its own.

I believe it was Peter Drucker who said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." If your organization's new strategy is being torpedoed by the prevailing culture that has evolved over years, I would recommend introducing a culture shift with a broader, proactive initiative such as implementing a decision to become a Lean organization (very different to lean and mean) that can hold out opportunities for growth for all. It may appear to be slower to implement and you may need help and training, but without a culture shift your new strategy is going to have a long, uphill battle.

An essential element of the strategy for introducing a new strategy is to consider the people: the team and the individuals. As I read recently, they are not the most important asset of your organization, they ARE the organization.

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