Unleashing Leadership

Aligning What People Do Best With What Organizations Need Most
Book cover for Unleashing Leadership

Chapter 1

Puff the Magic Dragon, is a familiar song to all of us. The character, Puff, is even familiar to our children and grandchildren. Yet, how many of us have asked the burning question: What happened after “ Jackie Paper came no more?”

After Jackie dumped Puff for “other toys,” we heard how Puff's “head was bent in sorrow;” how “green scales fell like rain,” how Puff “no longer went to play along that cherry lane,” how “Puff could not be brave,” and “sadly slipped into his cave.” But, “dragons live forever,” remember? So, the story didn't end there.

Jackie grew up, earned an MBA, and became an executive, too busy for childish things—like dragons, enjoying life, and making work and play as enjoyable as possible for his customers and team members. Puff, meanwhile, stewed and ruminated in his cave. His sorrow turned to anger, his anger to resentment, and, before long, the dragon's thoughts turned to revenge. It was get-even time for Puff.

Puff didn't spend all of his time in the cave moping around. He surfed the Internet, researching what makes organizations thrive, so he could make sure they wouldn't. Puff emerged from the cave on a mission to destroy organizations whose executives have forgotten how to have fun, create happy customers, and develop enthusiastic team members. Having heard that “you are what you eat,” he changed the name on his driver's license to Org.

Using his magical powers, Org became a ubiquitous creature, and now resides in the custodial closets of every organization in the Western World. As a nocturnal reptile, Org sleeps all day, invisible and virtually undetectable; except for the snoring that everybody acts like they don't hear. He ventures out at night, when the office hallways are dark and empty. People who work flex time into the wee hours to avoid the office idiot, and hear those strange “after midnight” noises, know they're not alone.

A well-fed dragon

Although not every dragon's diet is made up of organizational leadership's best intentions, Org's is. Org's Web research revealed that, among other successful characteristics, the highest performing organizations tend to make leadership everybody's business. The best companies believe that a leadership attitude should be an expectation of everyone, not an exception for a few. In the most productive and profitable enterprises, leadership responsibility is distributed and shared as much as possible across the organization, not merely used as a way to control labor and predict profits. It was clear to Org that, to slow down progress in organizations, to reduce their effectiveness and efficiency, and to make them resistant to change, he needed to keep the leadership potential of team members bottled up.

Org's research also taught him that change is inevitable, and the most successful organizations remain flexible, anticipate change, plan for it, and use it to their advantage. They proactively adjust to fluctuations in the internal and external marketplace. By making leadership part of everyone's daily responsibilities, organizations are able to stay on the leading edge of change, and respond to it in real time.

To accomplish these things, organizations invest billions (with a capital “B”) on change initiatives, continuous process improvements, new leadership skills, and a wide variety of training and development programs intended to improve personal and/or organizational performance. It was an acquired taste, but Org developed an appetite for gobbling up change initiatives, continuous process improvements, new leadership skills, and any type of training and development program that threatened to improve personal and/or organizational performance.

Initiatives intended to achieve mastery and excellence, have become the staples of Org's diet as he roams your darkened offices all night. Just before dawn, a bloated dragon waddles back to the custodial closet, curls up, belches, and goes back to sleep.

The next morning, the change management initiative has been replaced with organizational inertia, continuous process improvement has become a continuous meeting, supervisors, managers, and executives are flying by the seat of their pants and skirts again, customer service is as much an oxymoron as ever, internal customers aren't communicating effectively with each other—much less with anyone outside the organization—and the last time an incoming call was answered by a live voice was sometime in the second quarter of 1996. In short, the organization has become more user-unfriendly than ever. Bad dragon.

Got corporate culture?

The simple answer is, “yes.” The complex answer is, “more than you know.” Whether you like it or not, any time two or more people get together to do anything, a culture emerges. Most people think corporate culture is the collective, underlying, mostly unspoken, beliefs, values, paradigms, etc., that James Belasco, Warren Bennis, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, Peter F. Drucker, Gareth Morgan, Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley, and others taught us about during the last quarter of the 20th Century.

We agree. But, what they call corporate culture, we call Org, the Organizational Dragon. If you try to initiate or, harder yet, sustain change that runs contrary to your organization's culture, the change will last only until Org gets the munchies. It doesn't matter how much you pay consultants, or how energetic and enlightened the training program is, attempts at change will wind up in Org's digestive tract. It won't help to merely throw money at your culture, go through the training and development motions, find nothing but crumbs the next morning, stand with your head thrown back, shake your fists in the air, and scream, “Org!” He's a sound sleeper.

What do we mean by change? Try a 10 percent increase in profits, or cost savings. That's change. How about reducing turnover and intellectual capital leakage? That's change, too. Anything that produces improvement or digression from where you are at the moment is change. Any attempt you make to change your organization, its performance, or outcomes will be, by design, positive. Now, if we can only get things to consistently work the way we design them. As any business professional knows, sometimes they do, often, they don't.

Got a cynical corporate culture?

Do some change initiatives work splendidly? Sure they do. Are there great training and development programs out there? Of course. Do many organizational change initiatives last over time? Indeed. Is there terrific leadership in many organizations? Without question. Why are you reading this book? Probably because you can't answer, “yes,” to the last four questions about your company with a straight face, or, you have one of those super, high-performance organizations constantly looking to get even better.

Everybody involved in leading change begins at a real disadvantage. Org's going to wake up tonight with a growling tummy. Every change initiative, continuous process improvement, new leadership skill, customer service training, internal/external communication initiative, and O.S.H.A. compliance seminar that team members are exposed to or participate in—that their immediate bosses ignore, don't participate in, and/or simply don't support—is a recipe for dragon delight.

Many people in leadership positions consider their job done when they send their people to be trained. They don't understand that their job as leaders is only beginning, in fact, it's never done. When a change initiative is undertaken, only to be abandoned later, people don't become more eager to embrace the next one. When people's hopes and expectations are built up only to be demolished, they become a lot harder to motivate the next time, and the time after that. Cynicism builds cumulatively, like a callous.

The thicker defensive skin builds up over time, the more difficult it is to penetrate. We're consultants. We know what it is to be introduced to a room full of middle managers, or executives, as “the guys who are going to change things around here.” Right. Where's that loud snoring coming from? The custodial closet? Who could that be? Org is alive and well in the sallow complexions and vacant glances we get from the managers and/or executives. After an endless stream of consultants and change management initiatives, they have become zombies; the living dead.

We don't blame them. How would you like to be a square peg being pounded through a round hole? Classical management theory would have us believe that the fastest way to get a square peg through a round hole is to use a bigger hammer. Time is money, after all. Long-time middle managers can be easily identified by their flattened heads. New hires still have rounded domes.

Why is Org cynical?

Org is cynical because he assumed Jackie Paper would keep frolicking forever. Jackie didn't, and Org got ticked. People in organizations get ticked and become increasingly cynical every time a new change initiative, continuous process improvement, leadership development program, customer service seminar, internal and/or external communication initiative is brought in; and nothing improves.

Whose fault is that? Bosses blame unmotivated team members. Team members say it's their idiot bosses. We know where to place the blame because we work with unmotivated team members and idiot bosses. We've been unmotivated team members and idiot bosses. We've played the role of oppressor and the oppressed at different times in our careers. We also assumed, like Org, that the people we relied upon would never fail us. But, it happens. Some learn to get over it. Some, like Org, get even. We loaded up our wagons with questions and set out looking for answers.

When we slip into our collective worst selves—uninspired, defensive, and selfish—cynicism becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Then we all share the blame for our own cynicism and the loss in personal and organizational performance. Clinging to unrealistic expectations, we can become our own worst enemies.

The temptation to become cynical and leave our motivation in the parking lot is understandable, but we know it doesn't have to be that way, no matter how much the organization stumbles over its own feet. It ultimately boils down to personal choice, and saying, “No,” to cynicism and negativity. When you do, the first one to benefit is you. A more pro-actively motivated organization will follow.

It takes a new skill set to be sure. Such personal and organizational improvements call for a new paradigm. If this sounds complicated, difficult, or bothersome, remind yourself that, a few minutes ago, you didn't even know you had a dragon living in your custodial closet. See how your thinking has changed already?

Good and bad luck

Don't be fooled by thinking luck is the same thing as successful change. Many executives, us included, have benefited from upswings in the market, unexpected shifts in customer demands (in our favor), fortuitous timing, and luck of the draw. Of course, we called it brilliant executive leadership at the time. We didn't worry about the dragon in the custodial closet because he couldn't eat enough to keep up with and overcome our run of good luck. At times, we succeeded in spite of Org—until he caught up with us. Dragon's not only live forever, they eat forever, and luck eventually turns.

What happens when business is off? Is it because leadership has lost its edge? Are supervisors, managers, or executives, being exposed as phonies whose luck has run out? People don't learn much about themselves or others while they're succeeding in spite of poor practices. When the real outcomes reflect the real work being done, the real learning begins.

Org knows when organizations are living in a fool's paradise, and just keeps eating. When earnings tank, have you ever noticed how productivity and morale seem to have found their way into the tank first? Most executives bring in a consultant or a new training program for course correction after they've steered the ship into an iceberg.

Why are they suddenly concerned with efficiency, productivity, and performance issues they didn't give a second thought to when customers were beating down their doors and throwing money at them? Efficiency, productivity, and performance should always be priorities, through good times and bad. Everybody experiences bad times. You don't need to be visited by three ghosts, like Ebenezer Scrooge, to expect downturns now and then.

Org loves organizational policy makers who act shocked and surprised when fortunes turn, because they're the most likely to shoot from the hip. Imagine executives cramming hastily acquired training programs and consultants down the barrel of an antique canon, pointing it at the problem, and lighting the fuse. The “boom” is loud and impressive. Although the cloud of smoke is majestic, it masks the fact that nothing hit the target; at least until it clears. By that time, the executives are off to blow up something else, leaving behind piles of dragon food.

Substance abuse

The same organizational cultural faux pas applies to hiring and keeping talented and knowledgeable people. We define substance abuse as throwing away substance in favor of a better-looking wrapper. Running off experienced people for cheaper labor makes as much sense as peeling a banana, throwing the fruit away, and eating the peel. It takes patience, persistence, and perseverance to make the most of what we already have going for us, especially if the wrapper is worn and tattered. Nevertheless, the financial and stability benefits that flow from better use of available human resources have been proven time and time again. It requires forming a coalition of the willing—dragons and team members alike. And so it comes back to culture.

Too often, executive leadership looks at people as digits on a profit and loss statement, or “overhead” on a cash flow analysis. Have you ever heard anyone come right out and suggest, “Let's dump all those older men and women who know our business, our products, our customers, and the marketplace inside and out. We can replace them with kids who don't know squat, but will work twice the hours at half the pay.”

We haven't heard anyone say that either…aloud. But, that's the message echoing down many corporate hallways. What we are used to hearing in executive sessions is, “Retirement costs are skyrocketing. Labor and benefit costs need to be reduced substantially if we expect to show strong earnings on The Street.” Then sinister solutions seem to formulate in the shadows until HR announces the latest “downsizing,” “re-sizing,” or “right-sizing.” The dirty little secret most executives refuse to acknowledge is that the real cost in intellectual capital, the expense of training new-hires, and the productivity ramp up will eventually deflate earnings on The Street and another frenetic fire drill will begin.

Frenetic fire drills are attempts to stabilize organizations destabilized by “downsizing,” “re-sizing,” “right-sizing,” or “reductions in force.” Expenditures on consultants and new training and development initiatives contribute to the cost of these fire drills until the cost of “downsizing,” “re-sizing,” or “right-sizing” eclipses what it would have cost to unleash the pent up leadership already inside the organization. Now you know why consultants have a reputation for pulling the fire alarm in your headquarters building. But, we don't want to give away too many of our trade secrets. Org has to eat.

The substance abuse issue of sending away older, more experienced people in favor of younger ones is often not about money at all. When the veterans have become alienated by conflicting and/or disappointing company policies over time, the “new blood” is often an attempt to bring in fresh, untainted attitudes. Of course, the same inconsistent policies and lack of follow through that turned the veterans cynical to begin with will have the same effect on the newcomers. Just give them time. Org is a patient dragon.

What ever happened to boosting earnings by getting more out of the intellectual resources currently available? Sending intellectual capital out the door with a gold watch, a hail, and hardy farewell just makes Org's foraging for food easier. With all of that valuable knowledge and skill heading for Florida or Arizona, training and development efforts must be stepped up for the new kids on the block. Org says, “Bring it on.”

Changing culture

If the desired culture is inconsistent with the real culture, Org will continue to snarf up the desired culture every night, belch, and go back to sleep. Organizational executives will scratch their scalps until they're bald, or scream until they're hoarse, and Org will snore. Team members will mutter under their breath, “Another training and development program mysteriously disappears, never to be heard from again. Remind me to take a personal day when it's time to start another one.”

The only organizations able to successfully defy this cultural consistency challenge are those that have managed to actually change their corporate culture, or align their desired culture with their existing culture. Changing a culture—really changing it, not just redecorating the old one and pronouncing it changed—requires taming your dragon and making him a part of your team. To align a desired culture with an existing culture requires at least learning to coexist with your dragon. Both approaches can work. Sometimes the best solution is a combination of both.

Changing Org's diet

We would never suggest anything so cruel as to starve Org by cutting off his food supply. Yet, that's what happens when you make change, professional growth, and organizational development issues personal. New knowledge and skill sets that people acquire through change initiatives, continuous process improvements, leadership and a wide variety of other training and development activities intended to improve personal and/or organizational performance—must be personalized if they're to be internalized. They become internalized only when people believe and buy into the knowledge and information presented to them. Improved efficiency, productivity, and performance, necessary for increased profitability, all require adjustments and adaptations from you and your team members.

When new knowledge and skill sets are internalized, Org can't eat them. People don't leave internalized knowledge and skill sets lying around the office when they go home. Because they've been internalized, new knowledge and skill sets are carried in the hearts and minds of the learners wherever they go. That's where real organizational culture exists—in the hearts and minds of the organizational population. Org can't eat what's carried inside a person's heart and mind.

If you, as a policy maker, haven't invested in developing and consistently supporting your people, what they believe about you in their hearts and minds can be counterproductive. “It doesn't matter if they feel good about the organization and their role in it,” you might say. “I don't pay people to feel good.” We know you'd never say anything so short-sighted. But, some do, in spite of the fact that organizational performance, productivity, and profitability depend more on the emotional investment people have in meeting organizational objectives than any other factor.

What you want your people to carry in their heats and minds are positive, pro-active intentions about your organizational mission and agenda. That way, they'll leave the useless, irrelevant, negative junk behind when they go home at night. When the real culture is as positive as the desired culture, all that's left for Org to eat is the stuff you don't want contaminating your organizations. Faced with going hungry, Org will eat what he can get; this time doing us a big favor in the process. He's a dragon on a mission, but when it's time to eat, it's time to eat. After all, voracious is Org's middle name.

Organizations are voracious, too. People participate fully, with the best they have, when they feel necessary to the outcome. People want to participate, but only if they'll feel good about what they're doing. They're hungry for encouragement, growth, and a sense of ownership. Either feed your organizational population stuff they can put to good use or they'll eat you.

Tumbling traditional towers

Many people reading this book have struggled long and hard to get their dragons working on the same page as organizational leadership, and our hats go off to them. Many of those same people are organizational designers and appreciate how Napoleonic, military-style, hierarchical organizational structures make it practically impossible to change anything, much less organizational culture. Org is particularly fond of hierarchical organization charts. They're like a road map to dinner.

Traditional hierarchies make foraging for dragon food easier. When leaders are separate and definitely not equal, they tend to become ensconced in corner offices, or at least offices with windows. All Org needs to do to find a rich diet of discarded change initiatives, customer service, diversity, or communications training, is work the interior of the building, away from corner offices and windows.

Classic, Napoleonic, hierarchical organization charts look good on paper, but rarely translate into efficient work practices. They are, in fact, one of those designs that really don't work as designed. The biggest problem is that human beings are just too, well, human. As a result, traditional organizational charts tend to institutionalize inefficiency, and misalignment of natural talents to job descriptions.

Silos and subversion

The only thing silos are good for is storing grain or intercontinental ballistic missiles in North Dakota. As Dr. John and Dr. Angelo help companies distribute leadership responsibility throughout their organizational populations, we also help them rethink their traditional concepts of hierarchy. We sometimes refer to the time-honored organization chart as the money chart, because, more than anything else, it maps who gets paid the most. In terms of form and function (i.e. getting things done), the traditional money chart doesn't account for the many techniques people have devised to subvert it.

People in intermediate organizational positions quickly learn how they can influence decisions at the top by filtering information as it makes its way up the ladder and back down again. If top executives are making decisions based on heavily censored information, they are not as powerful as they think they are. Neither are they as effective as they could be if they received clear and complete data and an uninterrupted way to communicate unfiltered information back to the worker bees.

Another hidden problem with the traditional money chart is the silo effect. Department heads zealously protect their dominance over the column of names beneath their own. If someone in Ralph's silo wants to contact or work with someone in Helen's silo—not necessarily for betting in the office football pool or debriefing weekend reruns of Trading Spaces on Monday morning—there are immediate political implications. When it comes to taking initiative and forming strategic alliances to get things done, one must first honor the silo and go through channels; if one goes by the book, that is.

Going through channels means seeking permission from those above you. Then, (if they're helping you) they do the same; and so on until your request reaches the top of your silo. Then Ralph contacts Helen (maybe) and the request starts working its way down her silo to the person you wanted to deal with in the first place. Everyone's played the party game where you whisper something in a person's ear and that person whispers the information to the next person, etc, until it comes full-circle back to you. By then, the information has significantly changed simply by the way it is repeated over and over. Imagine how much more distortion there will be if the information is screened each time based on each person's political agenda.

The traditional organization chart, with its well-defended silos, is a major contributor to organizational inertia. When the number one priority for supervisors, managers, and executives becomes protecting their territory, is it any wonder that efforts to shake it up and change things are fed to the dragon almost as fast as they arrive? Thus, organizations with traditional, Napoleonic, military-style hierarchies tend to remain static. To loosely paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton's Law of Inertia, organizations at rest tend to stay at rest. Fortunately, organizations in motion will tend to stay in motion, as long as you keep doing the things that got you moving in the first place.

An end to isolation

Ideally, in organizational life, no one works in isolation. Unfortunately, cynicism and lack of meaningful engagement often result in people withdrawing into their own safe spaces. The organizational money chart enables people to isolate because they can always point upward when someone asks, “Who's in charge?” which is another way of asking, “Who's responsible?” which is another way of asking, “Whose fault is it?” which is another way of asking, “Who's going to take the fall?” The one taking the fall is usually not the person who is truly at fault, and, over time, the motivation to do well dwindles. It's hard enough keeping attitudes and motivation high without throwing structural roadblocks, like hierarchical organization charts, in the way.

Behavior and relationship expectations in most organizations are based upon the organizational money chart, which illustrates who makes the most mullahs and has the best benefits. But, a dollar paid to a line worker or a computer programmer is worth the same as a dollar paid to and executive vice-president. The executive vice-president merely gets paid more of them. This makes sense as long as the executive vice president is contributing proportionately more to the organization's earnings.

This is the theory behind most compensation schemes and organization charts. As the playing field becomes increasingly leveled and leadership responsibility is distributed based on natural ability and inclination to shoulder responsibility, as we're going to show, the compensation scheme must adjust accordingly. If compensation is merely tied to the organizational money chart, the real contributions of many in the organization are not being recognized or rewarded. Such neglect kills enthusiasm and effort.

Rings of responsibility

Unless the autocracy has absolute power to punish or imprison subordinates, hierarchical, militaristic-style leadership models seldom produce genuine high performance. When in doubt, we offer a three-word reminder: Former Soviet Union. A more realistic and functional way to think of leadership responsibility in organizations is concentric rings. At the core are individuals who are encouraged to take leadership responsibility for themselves and their specific tasks.

Moving outward are rings of increased responsibility that tend to become more complex as you move farther from the core. The more area contained within a ring, the higher the demand for effective leadership performance, and the more responsibility assigned to the leader. Although everyone is expected to accept collaborative leadership responsibility for all they are able and qualified to lead, they must also respect the ringleaders.

Within each ring, people should be allowed to move freely without regard for political boundaries or territoriality. One of the things ringleaders encourage is the uncensored free-flow of information and ideas, both within their circles and within the biggest circle of all, the one drawn around the entire organization. Think of a leader orbiting around a single team as a team leader. Responsibility for several teams is given to a group leader. Responsibility for several groups is give to an area leader. And so on. The specific language you associate with the position needs to reflect the organizational function, so as to reinforce the nature of the relationships. (If you insist on keeping your silos, then at least be honest and call department heads, “silo lids.”)

Each ring, regardless of its size, represents a cell that is formed around initiatives the organization needs executed to achieve the organization's overall strategic goals and objectives. That's a whole lot different than merely saying that Frank is the vice president of Marketing, which means Frank sits atop the Marketing silo. If Frank is orbiting around a marketing cell, formed around a specific purpose, Frank's earning his money. Sitting on top of the silo, he might be or he might not be. One thing is for sure, sitting on top of the silo, Frank's not moving very fast, and any effort exerted by Frank, or his staff, is a sitting duck for Org, the dragon.

The molecular organization

Think of your organization as a molecule instead of a field of silos. Silos are static. Molecules are in constant motion. A molecular design can help release your organization's pent up energy and speed past inertia. Orbiting around his marketing cell, Frank and his team are a moving target. Org is a lot less likely to devour moving targets. As the saying goes, slow rabbits get shot first. In a molecular organizational model, Frank and his team members are changing and adapting constantly, so that what they do reflects the most current realities of internal and external market factors.

As a leader in motion, Frank is aware of Org and his cynical bent. Frank also knows that team effort, strengthened by a sense of ownership and the enthusiasm that comes with it, is dragon-proof. Proper alignment of initiative and team players make genuine progress possible in spite of the snoring coming from the custodial closet.

To release the stored leadership energy in your organization and turn it into increasingly productive and profitable kinetic leadership energy, think structurally. In a molecular organization the rings of responsibility are round and easily maneuvered. Power is handed off, shared, and reassigned as the need arises.

Figure 1.1

When you stop looking at your organization as a hierarchy and start looking at it as a molecule, you can see how it becomes more dynamic and responsive to internal and external changes. Org won't be able to keep up with how fast the organization adjusts to fluctuations in the internal and external marketplace. When people are engaged at the level where they can contribute most, there's no stopping the motion.

As we strive to engage more people at every level of the enterprise we try to make levels disappear; or at least become seamless. We want the levels to cease functioning as a caste system between the haves and have-nots. Change initiatives, new leadership skills, and professional development programs will cease to be dragon food as Org begins to look at the fast-moving, ever-changing organization as a playful environment, every bit as much fun as the Honalee of his childhood. The more fun Org has, the more likely he'll be to join the team and work for you instead of against you.

Leadership development as a system

As you might have guessed, this book is not primarily about structuring the organization to maximize traditional leadership opportunities for everyone; although that helps. Instead, we deal more with the more urgent challenge of leadership design. We seek to identify strengths and essential natures within everyone in the organization so they can fully participate with a leadership attitude, regardless of their positions. A systemic approach to leadership is not only effective in enhancing individual leadership performance in every nook and cranny of the organization, it is also provides the foundation and the methods for building strong and effective leadership teams, which are the core of any effective and dynamic organization.

Adopting a molecular model for your organization aligns structure with the nature of getting things done. It also gives individuals a better opportunity to contribute on those projects where their unique talents and abilities are most appropriate. Not everyone's leadership style is appropriate for every leadership challenge. All of the elements we're describing are components of a systemic approach to leadership that includes organizational structure, leadership style, and alignment of purpose with unique talents and abilities.

You've no doubt heard recommendations to make everyone in the organization reapply for their job each year and prove they still deserve it, and/or they're still qualified for it. That's how a molecular organization works. Cells are formed around initiatives and tasks backed out of initiatives. When the need for a specific initiative or task ceases to exist, the cell ceases to exist. The people in the leadership team executing that task or initiative are reassigned to new tasks and initiatives, or absorbed into other cells that are expanding or otherwise changing in composition.

The strong, enduring, positive culture you want will stand the best chance of surviving and thriving in spite of Org's appetite when the activities people engage in are tied to a specific organizational purpose. More than that, the achievement of organizational goals and objectives will come much more swiftly and efficiently when the organization is in motion, rather than stagnant.

Chapter one summary: keys to unleashing leadership

  • Org, the voracious dragon: Organizational culture, we call him Org, reflects the shared values and beliefs among members of the organizational population, but it can be tainted by mishandled conflicts, and cynicism that accumulate over time. The first step is to accept that the dragon exists...and he's hungry. Engineering the best way to deal with him comes next. Assuming you want a positive, productive, profitable organization, you can make it happen by managing Org's diet.

  • Don't let Org eat intentional change efforts: If a change initiative contradicts the underlying beliefs, values, and experiences of the organizational population, it's not likely to last ‘til morning. The dragon will only be tamed when solutions resonate with the shared values and beliefs among members of the organizational population. Org doesn't eat people, so he can't eat what's in their hearts and minds. Internalized new ideas, beliefs, and principles are safe from his nightly ravaging.

  • Don't abuse your substance: Doing more with the human resources you have, rather than discarding them, makes far more financial and operational sense than engaging in frenetic fire drills every time things get shaky. The reasons that people become hesitant and cynical are clear enough. So are the solutions to turn those attitudes around. Do the things that will encourage people to embrace new information and knowledge, not yawn and go to sleep.

  • Fire the hierarchy: Long live the molecule. Tethers to old hierarchical organization charts must be loosened. If possible, severed. Flat-footed notions of hierarchical leadership need to be replaced with agile attitudes. This might sound like a pep rally, but the real and practical need benefits of flexibility, agility, and unbounded thinking will become increasingly evident as we move forward.

  • Leadership is a system: As we'll discuss more in Chapter Two, leadership should not be synonymous with higher pay, more power, or a corner office. Leadership is an attitude that needs to permeate every fiber of your organization. Rather than portray leadership as an exception for an anointed few, it must be acknowledged as an expectation of everyone, regardless of their position. Your organizational culture must consistently and unflaggingly support that notion. And keep it out of Org's reach.

Now you've been introduced to Org, and learned how he makes arbitrary attempts at change and organizational improvement disappear. We move ahead to deal with how old notions of leadership have kept Org well fed over the years, while keeping most of the leadership potential in your organization under lock and key. We'll also explore how new leadership concepts can change Org into a vital and positive member of your team as they unleash the captive leadership potential in your organization.