Workplace culture is shaped from the top down. One of the costliest mistakes to organizations is the inability or unwillingness of its leaders to successfully facilitate difficult conversations. The difficulty may lie in the manager’s skill level. He or she simply doesn’t know how to coach an employee on a performance issue. Or a leader may be embarrassed to talk with an employee about careless social skills. Or the difficulty may be a more complex cultural issue that goes unseen until the problem becomes national news.
This post is the last in a series of five articles describing a major arts-based leadership development programme at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, designed and run over a four-year period by Dr. Mark Powell, one of the authors of this article. Previous posts have looked at the way in which delegates to the programme worked with dancers, actors and jazz musicians. This final post explores the most ‘hands-on’– and for many delegates the most emotional – element of the programme: the experience of conducting a small chamber choir.
The following opinion is an extended look into “The Force Multiplier Theory.” It’s a concept I’ll introduce below, and it’s one we routinely use in helping organizations, teams, and leaders to understand the role of culture in organizational performance and effectiveness.
The overarching idea isn’t rocket science. Seemingly, whenever we share this perspective with people they always nod their heads in agreement and say, “absolutely,” or “we really need that.” Yet, as basic as the idea might seem, we still see organizations struggle with this concept and fail to invest in it, or not to its full potential.
This post is the third in a series of five articles describing a major arts-based leadership development programme at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, designed and run over a four-year period by Dr. Mark Powell, one of the authors of this article. In the program, which was conducted on behalf of a major oil and gas exploration company, senior project managers worked closely with a wide variety of artists: jazz musicians, actors, painters, storytellers, dancers, conductors and others. The aim was to create a new culture of ‘open mindedness’ in the project managers, encouraging them to interact effectively with the other stakeholders involved in major projects, and enhancing their ability to ‘improvise’ – to react quickly and effectively to changing circumstances.
Speed and urgency, although necessary attributes of leadership, are not sufficient to successfully lead a team. In fact, our research suggests that leaders who can tether an obsession with deadlines and time to an ability to sense the work and energy flow of their colleagues will have the most success.