Much of the pain we see in business dysfunction today is the result of a silo culture built by leaders who have created an infrastructure in which their team members operate but the walls of this infrastructure are often barriers to innovation and creativity, which over time can lead to toxic culture challenges.
Most leaders we work with recognise the importance of dismantling the silo and aligning teams and in 2017 Deloitte conducted research which concluded that 65% of the C-Level executives surveyed have a strategic objective to transform their organisation’s culture with a focus on connectivity, communication and collaboration. But collaboration and connectivity do not happen in a vacuum, it takes strategic, tactical leadership but more importantly it takes human focused leadership to make this happen.
Through my coaching work, I witness this first hand. To see the impact a human focused leader has on an individual, a team, a department and an organisation can be remarkable. Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this was that of Bob Chapman who revolutionised his company by engraining a culture in which his people were cared for like family. This was not a cliché, it truly was the bedrock of his success. This is Human Focused Leadership at its best.
How do we create this sense of collaboration and connectivity?
There are two things which rank high on the list of Human Focused Leaders and these skills are often reinforced during Coaching journeys with Executive Board members.
1. Empathy – if I had a pound for the amount of times I had mentioned empathy in my communication of late, I would be a very rich person! Empathetic listening is a skill that Executives must develop, it gives them a genuine professional advantage and is at the very core of a healthy workplace. Organisations that are run by non empathetic leaders can very quickly become volatile because they are rooted in egocentricity. In his book, On Becoming a Person, psychologist Carl Rogers wrote, ” Real communication occurs when we listen with understanding – to see the idea and attitude from the other person’s point of view, to sense how it feels to them, to achieve their frame of reference in regard to the thing they are talking about.” (Forbes)
As Coaches we continuously strive to improve our ability to listen to what is not being said and to be truly present with someone. We work on this stringently so that we can get the very best out of our clients. Executive Coaching will have a focus on building empathy and sharpening these soft skills in order to improve the overall health of an organisation, dismantle silos and create collaboration and connectivity.
2. Create Psychological Safety – I find this a really interesting concept and it is one which Human Focused Leaders consistently score high on. The idea that connectivity and collaboration can be achieved through making people feel safe is not a new concept but we often find that organisations that struggle with silo mentality are often built on a foundation of fear and so people like to hoard. They hoard their ideas and don’t share for fear of someone stealing them. The instinct to hoard can be traced back to early humans hoarding vital supplies for fear of not having enough (Forbes). The more they put away, the safer they felt. Whenever we feel insecure or distrustful in the workplace, our natural instinct kicks into high gear and we tend to hoard information and knowledge. Knowledge is Power – or so the saying goes. Although I would argue that ‘Knowledge is there to be shared’ is a much healthier motto to live by and is a sign of a confident, secure leader who knows only too well how to create psychological safety and alignment within an organisation or a team. This can be developed through Coaching and again will be a vital skill for the Executive to master.
Innovation is triggered by cross-pollination. Creative breakthroughs occur when teams connect and ideas collide. Human Focused Leaders naturally sow the seed of cross-pollination because they have invested in developing the skills they need to serve them and their team well. In contrast to Autocratic leaders whose leadership styles are simply irrelevant in today’s workplace, human focused leaders exercise their power through an ability to impact, influence and inspire others to succeed.