Insights into Cultivating & Sustaining an Inclusive, Creative Culture, Part I

Key Concept ~ I’d like to share a series of excerpts from my book, “The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging The Mind, Heart & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success”, that explore the nuanced challenge of cultivating a vibrant, inclusive organizational culture in today’s volatile world.

The most enlightened vision, the most elegant strategy requires the positive energy of a team in continuous alignment with the actions and intentions of aligned purpose.  In today’s world, where value creation emerges from intellectual property, human beings have never been more central to success.  The business community is slowly evolving in their understanding of the importance of human beings as the drivers of sustainable performance.

This is reflected in the jargon.  What were once Personnel Departments became Human Resources, and HR is now evolving towards Talent Management.  While this line of thinking shows promise there often still exists a disconnection between posturing and jargon and the actions of leadership.

This slow march still leaves many organizations far from embracing the complex, nuanced, and multi-dimensional nature of human beings.  We are much more than an amalgamation of our cognitive abilities, education, and accumulation of experiences.  And yet, for the most part, that’s exactly the criteria most commonly associated with recruitment and hiring.

The fact is, there is something accretive about our very nature.  A fully actualized human being represents a sum that is greater than his or her individual attributes, talents, experiences, and education.  There is something beyond this mere accounting, something mysterious and beautiful.  Something that sparks the creativity that lies within us all!

Our ability to connect, engage, and authentically motivate others emerges through our emotional competencies, often referred to as emotional intelligence.    This refers to our self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship management skills.  Research reveals that more than 80% of success in life can be attributed to the level of emotional self mastery that emerges through the development of these abilities.  The remaining 20% relates to our native intelligence and cognitive abilities.

Perhaps the single most important sensor-connector in the human experience (and one critical to effective leadership) is our ability to express empathy.      Again, an ability that emerges through our emotional attunement.  Contemporary business culture tends to ask us to leave our emotions at home.  Yet, in doing so, they are disconnecting us from our very nature.  Leaving our hearts on the sidelines disengages us from both our employers and our authentic selves.

This leads us to consider the mysterious source of human creativity.  What is the source of inspiration in human beings?  I venture to say it emerges from a place far beyond the mere components of our physical existence.  There is something Divine in our ability to create.  Something that relates to our accretive nature, of how our mind, heart, and spirit intertwine and create the essence of our being.  To compartmentalize our gifts, to ask us for one while discounting another leaves us fragmented, less than what we are meant to be.

As I write this IBM® just released their 2010 Global CEO Study.  In canvasing more than 1,500 CEOs from around the world, a revelation came to light.  According to these business leaders, the single most important leadership competency necessary for success in the future is creativity.  Not managerial discipline, mental rigor, integrity, or vision…but creativity.  They go on to identify the solution to this challenge lies in cultivating creativity throughout the entire organization.  This is a hopeful sign.  An acknowledgement that the driver of success going forward must embrace the creative nature of human beings.

Unfortunately, the mindset in today’s workplace is often one of fear.  Fear from leadership to acknowledge our authentic nature.  Fear with associates to take risks with positive intention.  Fear based in a lack of trust and the insecurities rooted in ego-driven behavior.

The historical lack of commitment from many businesses towards associates has instilled an incessant, negative expectation.  Waiting for the other shoe to drop.   Leading associates to hedge their emotional and energetic contributions, protecting their themselves by projecting a false façade.  Managers defend territory and take issues personally.  Doesn’t feel like a creative place, does it?

Fortunately, it is not imperative to speak of the authentic nature of humans to acknowledge, embrace, and cultivate the creative potential of human beings.  However, in many environments, a conscious break in the perspective and behavior of leadership needs to occur for creativity to emerge.  Creativity is tough to manufacture…it needs to be cultivated.  I think you can see how it takes a different mindset and perspective to spark a creative environment.

The philosophy of winning at any cost has become deeply rooted in many corporate settings.  The attitude of if we’re not growing, we’re dying has always befuddled me to a certain degree.  I’m not speaking of small, growing businesses trying to build traction or mid-size companies moving quickly to leverage capabilities.  I mean some of the really large businesses I’ve worked for in the past.  Growth tells one part of the story, but I’ve seen some areas where less would have been more, both in the near term and strategically for the organization.  Moving forward isn’t always a linear process.

Be smart here.  Learn to measure your steps towards progress in the tangible motion of the business.  Are you positioning your talent, capabilities, and culture in a position poised for adaptability?  This is what the CEOs in the survey are concerned about…finding the creative thinkers that can navigate this new horizon.

to be continued…

© 2011 – 2012, Performance Transformation, LLC™.

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