It amazes me how many corporate cultures get in the way of employee engagement, morale, productivity and creativity. Such cultures are based on a foundation of numbers, logic, spreadsheets, analysis, strategic planning, ROI, rules and regulations, etc. and view their employees as Mr. Spock-like machines who lack emotion and don’t have to time to engage in real conversations with their colleagues let alone think out of the box and innovate. Company founders and senior managers of such companies see these restrictive cultures as critical to the success of the organization (based on past success) instead of what they really are – a source of employee disengagement and a barrier to creativity.
I have had several experiences dealing with personnel from such overbearing cultures that refute management’s thinking that their left-brain employees don’t value communication, innovation and feeling empowered:
- Management of an international organization vehemently argued that their managers who participated in a two-day Points of You Authentic Leadership workshop would never open up, talk from the heart, tell their stories and connect with each other. They were wrong. Participants called the workshop the best learning experience they ever had.
- Senior managers of an accounting company were stunned when 42 of their accountants participated in a workshop that had them use crayons, glue, stickers, photos and other art supplies to create storyboards that reflected the company’s existing and desired positioning in the marketplace. The creativity that was unleashed was powerful.
- The CEO and CFO of an international mining company couldn’t believe that 70 of their high potential managers from around the world (who were engineers and geologists), participating in a two-day Leadership Forum, initiated an open and honest dialogue process while telling rich and inspiring leadership stories about the company – building trust and relationships in the process.
- The COO of a non-profit organization was thrilled to see his left-brain Operations managers, for the first time ever, talk openly during a one-day Points of You workshop, about the team’s issues, create a movie storyboard that represented their vision for the future and communicate with each other in an empathetic and inspiring manner.
Accountants, engineers, geologists, software code writers, financial advisors, production line workers, etc., while being left brain thinkers, do not go home at night to their families and talk like robots – they are empathetic, emotional and caring family members and friends. Unfortunately, many of the companies they work for have corporate cultures that tie them up in straightjackets, deny their humanity and restrict their creativity. Senior managers of these organizations, who defend these rigid and stifling cultures, end up putting their companies at great risk moving forward in a competitive and fast-changing world.