Friday, March 27, 2015

The Hidden

Can leaders ever really feel the pulse of their organization? 

There is so much that is hidden from our view.  This is largely due to the position that we are in.  Most people naturally aren't going to come to the leader and tell them the reality.  The reality that is often communicated to the leader is sugar coated and the edges have been sanded down.

Ed Catmull explains a transformation that all leaders can relate with as they've moved up the chain.  
"I don't think my actions changed in a way that prompted this; my position did. Gradually snarky behavior, grousing, and rudeness disappeared from view - from my view, anyway.  I rarely saw bad behavior because people wouldn't exhibit it in front of me" (p. 171)
In a healthy culture people feel comfortable airing their frustrations with the leader.  The leader seeks out opportunities and creates structures that allow honest and candid conversations to occur. I am far from perfect in finding my own blind spots. I believe it begins with an awareness that not everything may be as we think. I think self awareness is an important leadership component. We can't assume that all is well. We have to actively seek out "the hidden" that lurks in our organization.  

Catmull uses a metaphor to explain this process.  There is a door and on one side we see everything we know - the world as we understand it. On the other side is everything we don't know and can't see. He explains, 
"The goal is to place one foot on either side of the door - one grounded in what we know, what we are confident about, our areas of expertise, the people and processes we can count on - and the other in the unknown, where things are murky, unseen, or uncreated" (p. 184). 
Whether we want to believe it or not power comes with a leadership position. People unfortunately behave differently in front of leadership. Its up to the leader to be aware of this and promote an open candid environment.  

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