In San Francisco, a private high school challenged its Seniors to go without their digital devices for a week. Phones were collected and off the students went into their own private purgatories. How long could they last? The Principal thought it would not be long. He saw their humanity slipping away into digital space.
Everyone in the workplace knows that the bottom line matters, and that without a healthy bottom line, jobs are at risk. Everyone also knows that customer satisfaction matters, since without it there is no healthy bottom line. And everyone knows that quality of products/services matters, because without it the customers won’t be satisfied. And more often than not, this is where the conversation stops.
There is an up and coming leader in a global IT firm, Ray, who is known as the smartest guy in the room. He has been a top performer for years, is well known for his executive briefings of customers, and his solid strategic sense. In fact, he’s so smart that whenever he goes into a meeting with colleagues, everyone waits for him to weigh in on the issue of the day, since there’s no point in having a different view. You’re most likely going to be made wrong. He also has the ear of the Senior Vice President, so Ray speaks with power as well as smarts.
“We don’t have time for the soft stuff” was recently heard in a senior leadership meeting. “Let’s get back to the real work—our budget and strategy for next year.” This team had just been through a training workshop that focused on leadership styles, their impact on the workforce, and the need to shift their behaviors toward more openness and collaboration. Comments on the “soft stuff” have been around for some time. It’s amazing in this time of work complexity, ambiguity, vulnerability, and interdependence, that some leadership still undervalue the importance of the human side of enterprise.
“I never give a 5”, said the senior executive when evaluating one of his people on a 5 point scale. “No one is perfect.” All our lives, in school, athletics, or socially, we are poked, prodded, and pushed to be perfect by evaluation systems that merely show us we are not 5’s, “not good enough”. We are less than perfect, based the standards of others, so peer pressure becomes our moral compass. In the business world, it’s organizational politics and fear that shape how we behave. We have to take orders, get along, and not rock the boat in order to advance.