In an earlier post, we gave a very brief account of a major arts-based leadership development programme at Oxford University’s School of Business, designed to create new behaviors in a group of senior project managers in the oil and gas exploration industry. The aim was to create a new culture of ‘open-mindedness’: the ability to form more effective working relationships with the other stakeholders involved in major capital projects and an increased ability to ‘improvise’ – to react quickly and effectively to rapidly changing situations.
Purpose. It’s a trending topic for businesses today. A quick Google search of the phrase “company + purpose” produces a whopping 1,030,000,000 hits. Harvard Business Review has published literally dozens of articles on the subject in the past 12 months alone. And leaders across the country – and the world – are paying attention; working to figure out what role purpose should play in their organizations and in their cultures, because this topic is becoming increasingly near and dear to their employees’ and customers’ hearts.
I spent 15 years learning and applying culture insights as a senior executive, consultant, and coach across multiple organizations before I started to proactively reach out to top culture pioneers and experts to learn about their culture facts and fundamentals. We can’t learn much about culture from the popular press and most social media is dominated by over-simplified culture content. Critical insights from the top culture experts in history are unfortunately “secrets” to the vast majority of leaders. Other leaders turn away from the fundamentals of culture to more exotic and superficial solutions.
When you think of an effective leader, several characteristics likely come to mind: confident, capable, adaptable. Less obvious are the abilities to conserve capacity by being selective about the projects he or she agrees to take on and then quickly recognizing his or her own demand-to-capacity gaps if the inverse equation of shrinking resources and increasing demands should spike.