In today’s scenario, everyone is a skilled, talented professional in their own right. Anything less will not get one an entry into a good organization. This being so, the need for self-actualization through the workplace is much higher than in the past. If one does not experience the scope of fulfilling oneself, the talented employee will inevitably look for and find other pastures. Another feature of contemporary corporate reality is that there is the acute need to deliver excellence, as a matter of survival. Individuals, teams and organizations have to consistently deliver excellence in an environment of constant change. This calls for two things – high levels of creativity, and an environment of FUN. No one has ever delivered excellence in a field that they did not love, or in an activity they did not enjoy.
The challenge before today’s Leader/Manager therefore is: Facilitating an environment where each member of the team experiences an inner compulsion to deliver creative excellence, out of loyalty to the team as well as a commitment to one’s own standards of excellence. Through a process of inspirational leadership, the manager must create a culture of bonding, trust, and fun, that allows for adventure and competent risk-taking without the fear of failure.
It has been repeatedly and consistently experienced during the course of the workshops that 'fear of failure' is a misnomer. A more appropriate definition would be the 'fear of being unfairly blamed for failure'. When you set to climb a high mountain, there is no guarantee that you will succeed. When you set out to play an intense game of football or tennis, there is no assurance of success. So also, when you work for months on a new play and perform it for the first time, there is no assured certainty that the audience will like it. Yet, people set out to take on the toughest of challenges with very high possibilities of failing. If they win, the celebration is that much greater. If they fail, they become stronger, and wiser, and very often more integrated, and try again till they succeed. The difference is, in all these cases, when the commitment is total, and everybody has trust in each other's commitment, there is no blame game. Failure or success is a collecting experience - a collective celebration or a collective disappointment.
In many corporates, the appraisal and reward policies are such that it creates the possibility of being individually held accountable for a collective failure. This creates acute self-consciousness, which as mentioned in an earlier post, converts the simplest of pressures into stress. Instead of celebrating each other's excellence as is instinctive to a natural team, one feels threatened and insecure by the excellence of the other. 'Team' becomes only a label. There is no Team and no teamwork. Just a group of unintegrated individuals, looking out only for themselves, going through the pretence of working together. There are a lot of presentations but no communication. Many training programmes, but little learning. Many "fun" activities, but little enjoyment. Many years of working together, but no integration or bonding.
The irony is that all these desired behaviours are instantly, instinctively, and abundantly available, the moment we create natural teams. This has been proved consistently, year after year, team after team, workshop after workshop, without exception. All we need is to open up our personality prisons and policy cages to explore new ways of looking at the immensely rich and powerful possibilities that are already available.