When Ralph Stacey published “The Post Truth Era” in 2004 he reflected on how Truth had changed over the past 50 years. How our view of Politics, Education, Media, and Celebrities had radically changed after WW2.
He proposed that as a human race we had witnessed many scandals, challenges to what we were educated in and media reporting that had been framed to hide the truth.
Some might argue that with the dawn of Trumpism, Corporate Scandals and Political Events then establishing the Truth has become even more difficult. The distortion of Truth with terminology such as “fake news” has become even more prevalent in some circles.
Taking this further then, we are all much more challenged in terms of Who and What to Trust. John Blakey in his book “The Trusted Executive” (2020 Second Edition) highlighted Trust as the No1 Factor that CEOs are being judged on by Investors, Consumers and Public Opinion.
Finally, we have seen the acceleration of Focus on the areas of Truth and Trust as Global pandemic of 2020 unfolded with the “tectonic plates” of world order starting to shift substantially.
In 2020/21 we are seeing:
- BP downsize its efforts on oil exploration and begin restructuring their business to achieve the aim of being carbon neutral by 2050
- Shell buying the largest network of electric charging points in the UK
- Unilever insisting that all of their suppliers pay a minimum wage
- Social upheaval and protest around BLM, Anti Vaxxers and the Sarah Everard case in the UK
- Investors looking more closely at Executive Pay, Environmental Activities and Executive Morals
This creates huge challenges for us, as leaders. Whether we lead an organisation at the most Senior Level or lead a team at the sharp end of a business/organisation then society demands more from us.
So what do I believe needs to happen?
Much of what is occurring has begun at Senior Levels in Politics, Business, Academia and Investment Funds. They are driving the change and demanding from each other.
So, organisations need to start looking at Purpose, Culture and what they contribute to their People and The Environment, whilst maintaining a profitable operation.
For people to embrace these changes fully they need to feel Psychologically safe.
In her book “The Fearless Organisation” Carol Edmondson explored this concept and how it is manifested in a number of case studies she has outlined in the book. She gives examples of what good looks like as well as examples of how when Psychological safety has been missing.
There is a clear business advantage for organisations to ensure everyone feels psychologically safe. Here are the key principles which underline what Carol proposes:
- People having the freedom to contribute ideas and suggestions
- An organisational respect for Diversity and Inclusion
- Permission to speak up to raise concerns, anxieties, issues, without fear
- Harnessing diverse, multi-talented, distributed workforces equipped to face the unique challenge presented during and post the COVID-Era
Of course, much if this cannot be achieved overnight and it relies on actions, clear boundaries, and role- modelling at the senior level for people to trust the intent. Its also about helping people connect emotionally and helping them to feel psychologically safe.
The Fundamental Ingredient…
.. Is TRUST!
In 2000, Charles Green et al published their work “The Trusted Adviser”. Central to that publication was something called the “Trust Equation”
Looking through the key components they outlined:
- Credibility– having the depth and breadth of knowledge to look and sound as if you know what you are talking about
- Reliability– Doing what you say you are going to do
- Intimacy– getting to know the other party or person. What are their needs and wants? How do you connect with them, adjusting your approach and communication style?
In my work with leaders globally, I often talk about this equation and it always leads to a discussion about self-interest. This is when an individual puts themselves or their needs above those of others. Perhaps they not being transparent, offering the best terms or seeking personal advantage rather than striving for the best outcome for all stakeholders.
When an individual operates from apposition of self-interest, they put at risk Credibility and Reliability and most importantly the chance of being Trusted.
So, in shaping organisations and cultures to respond to the changing demands of all stakeholders and ensuring there is a culture of Psychological safety leaders need to operate to build Trust and be Trusted. Without this people will not be prepared to engage and the tangible commercial benefits of a psychologically safe culture will be put at risk or just not be delivered
In my view, The Leadership Revolution – is about Culture, how Executive Leaders respond to the changing world order and if people feel genuinely safe to challenge, innovate, call out bad practice and work to their Strengths.
What traits, qualities and abilities should we be looking for in those who create our work cultures- the leaders and managers reporting into the Executive Leaders?
The demands on leaders and the expectations of their followers were starting to shift long before COVID.
With the entry of Gen Y and now Gen Z into the workforce they are shifting the dynamic on how they rate their leaders and their ability to lead.
Gone are the days when leaders could just control and lead with authority- they need a much broader skillset. In the 2000s Engagement, Inspiration and Empowerment were buzzwords in Leadership Development and OD. Leadership education started to focus on how leaders could harness intrinsic motivation, rather than just expecting people to show up and always do a great job.
COVID has accelerated the need to build that skill set substantially in a set of new and emerging skills. Some of which need to deal with the merging of home and social life into the work arena.
Carol Edmondson articulates the skills required to develop the “Psychologically Safe” culture as :
- Framing the work- being honest about the opportunities and the challenges
- Explaining the Purpose- going beyond the framed words in the office foyer to bringing the Purpose alive and communicating it
- Leading with situational humility
- Asking questions with proactive enquiry
- Having systems and structure that enable psychological safety
- Being more appreciative- even when things go wrong
- Destigmatising failure
- Sanctioning clear violations
I think these behaviours, skills and actions will be essential to lead people through COVID and create a new world order in terms of inspiring, motivating and attracting followers.
Let the Revolution Begin!
We will be exploring this at Co-Creation’s next interactive virtual event – “The Leadership Revolution” April 22nd 10.30-11.30am – click here to register: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwvc-2vqDwtHtdsYYvLepzqj62tJk-ikwsK
At Co-Creation we are passionate about helping our customers create positive environments to help their people succeed and thrive in high performing organisations. If you want to know more about how then contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org