01 02 03 "CorporateTheatre": The Power of Environmental Transformation - An Amazing Workshop Experience ! 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

The Power of Environmental Transformation - An Amazing Workshop Experience !


Something remarkable happened during the course of a recent workshop.  It was a "CorporateTheatre" - 'Leadership through 'natural' Teams' workshop for the senior leadership team of a high profile micro finance company.  We were doing an exercise which involves intense competition between teams at increasing levels of challenge, constant change requiring instant realignment of roles, stringent discipline and penalties for breach of rules, ratings, and great uncertainty.  The exercise involved several rounds at increasing levels of difficulty and scoring potential, each of which had to be led by a designated leader.  The rules dictated that the designated leader could not be repeated, which meant that the team had to choose a different leader for each round.  The performance of the team and their score for each round depended to a great extent on the performance of the leader.

One particular team which had been doing very well, topping the ranking till then, selected a good performer for their critical final round.  The other competing teams also sent up their best performers for this very challenging round, and scored well.  Finally when the turn of this particular team came up, though the leader did a good job, the team could not understand what they needed to do and ended up scoring no points at all.  This dropped them to the last position in the rankings.  The disappointment was obvious on their faces and the team looked crestfallen.

At this point, I announced a 'killer' round at a very high score which could change all the rankings thus far, and asked the teams to select their leader for this final high stake round.  They were given the option of sending up anyone they wanted, including those who had come as leaders earlier.  To my surprise and delight, this particular team chose the same person who had come up in the earlier round where they had failed and plummeted to the bottom of the table!

I asked them,

"Why have you selected this person as your leader for the 'killer' round, when you scored nothing under his leadership earlier?"

The answer was,

"We failed in the last round not because he did not perform, but because we did not understand."

They went on to perform brilliantly and won!!

Can you imagine the power of this attitude at the workplace? -  The willingness to accept responsibility for failure!  The ability to recognize and value competence and commitment and not just results! The strength to deal with failure and disappointment, think clearly and objectively, and move on to super performance and success!

We did not change people.  We did not teach them to accept responsibility for failure.  We did not tell them to become more accountable.  We did not ask them to drop their egos.  All we did was to create an environment where they could experience the basic instinct of 'natural' teams to commit to a collective success, while at the same time, being able to recognize the value of ‘star’ performance.

As described several times in various other posts in this blog, the 'human animal' is genetically programmed to hunt, survive, and WIN in packs.  The challenge of leadership is not to lead teams.  Instead, it is to define destinations, the parameters of successfully reaching there, the collective rewards involved in reaching, as well as the rewards for star contributors to the success of the journey, and then empower the team to lead along the way, according to who knows that part of the journey best, irrespective of designation or hierarchy. The 3 Pillars that create this 'natural' team environment are also defined several times in the blog.

In other exercises that are part of the workshop, the team also experiences the need for a leader to take charge, even autocratically when needed, when the situation calls for it.

What never ceases to amaze me, after having worked with thousands of teams across a wide variety of Organizations and cultures, is that at the core, the instinctive behaviour of people is almost exactly the same.  For change and transformation to happen, we need to work at the core and the periphery will take care of itself.  Once the core has been addressed, all that we seek in terms of integration, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation, time management, resource management, situational leadership, adapting to pressure without stress, all these become available as instinctive behaviour, as attitude, and not as technique.

This may sound idealistic to those who have not experienced it, but more than 37,000 participants as well as serious research have validated the power and the possibilities of transforming the environment instead of trying to transform people!

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