Last month I had the privilege of attending the 2nd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference in San Francisco, hosted by Human Synergistics. One of many reasons for me to take the 12-hour flight from Switzerland was to be in the company of thought leaders in workplace culture, such as Dr. Edgar Schein. Among the many insights he shared, one in particular struck a chord with me: the different methods of surveying for culture data. Dr. Schein described two-dimensional (2D), 3D and 4D views one can take when trying to understand a company’s culture. My experience is similar, and it prompted me to draw out the following analogy.
In an uncertain economy, and in VUCA times, empathy may seem like a “nice-to-have” leadership skill or culture asset. Instead, I propose that it is empathy that often serves as a catalyst for a Constructive culture.1
A Constructive culture, as defined by Human Synergistics (HS), is characterized by strong norms for four behavioral styles—Achievement, Self-Actualizing, Humanistic-Encouraging, and Affiliative (see profile).
Seasoned leaders know that the road to a successful change management process is not always a smooth one. Strategy, structure, tech, resources, and capacity all may be in place and positioned for an effective effort. However, what are often missed are factors that can be crucial to success and that can blindside the unwary leader. In two words: Culture and Conflict.
The Beatles—arguably one of the greatest bands in history—did not become that way by accident. Many stories abound about their long time playing nightly in Hamburg, getting to know and be in sync with one another. This could be the epitome of creating a truly high-performing team. But what about leadership?
Recently, I had the privilege to lead a session with a management team where they wanted to explore their interaction style as a leadership committee. This was a global, culturally diverse, senior team—leading over 4,000 staff between them, performing critical daily tasks for the organisation, and defining the future strategy of their division with implications for the company at large.