Rediscovering organizational vitality

Core Leadership Development proposes a new “living” lens and learning approach that will enable an organization to rediscover its creative purpose and renew its innate vitality. Through this re-energizing process, there will be a sharper focus on unrealized potential, an increased capacity to tap individual creativity and collective intelligence, greater agility in dealing with unforeseen changes, as well as healthier relationships and lifestyles. If properly implemented, this approach will have a significant impact on the value creation and organic evolution of the organization. The benefits will be experienced over time by all stakeholders: customers, members, partners, shareholders or sponsors, community, and natural environment.

The new lens we propose is to view the organization as a “living being”, capable of renewing and transforming itself on the edge of uncertainty and chaos, while maintaining its deep sense of purpose. A “vital” organization maintains a high level of energy and channels it effectively into creative outcomes. It thrives on trusting individuals and their self-organizing capacity. It values emerging change and encourages dialogue. Its members embrace paradoxes, dilemmas and conflicts. They keep asking important questions and promote an atmosphere of courage, curiosity, and compassionately truthful interactions. Coherence is a source of energy that emerges both out of the relationship patterns and out of each member’s resonance with the overall organizational raison d’être – reason for being. Leaders at all levels relate positively to complexity, diversity and uncertainty. They are committed to pioneering a new generation of creative relationships – a sense of a “legacy going forward”.

Adopting this new “living” lens would stimulate an organization to seek its own answers to the following questions:

  1. How do we tap into the organization’s full potential to create and innovate, particularly through informal networks and communities of practice, as well as through healthier interactions with customers and other partners?
  2. What conditions do we create for our members to identify and resonate with our organizational raison d’être – to not only experience it, but to act accordingly?
  3. How do we currently appreciate and build upon our personal, cultural and ethnic diversities while seeking alignment around our vision? What changes are needed in our personnel policies?
  4. How do we surface and name our problems, limiting assumptions and resistances to change, and turn them into living/learning opportunities?
  5. How do we – individually and collectively – create spaciousness in the face of challenges such as collapsing time frames, short-term focus, and scarcity of time for reflection?
  6. How do we enable those within and outside the organization to enhance their personal health and well-being?
  7. What do we want to model as 21st century leaders?
  8. Are we comfortable with the legacy we are leaving for succeeding generations?

Our approach to this work is to initially agree with our client on a learning path toward a higher level of organizational vitality, and to jointly design an evolving assessment process. We suggest forming a guidance team with key organization members that will set benchmarks and regularly measure progress through appreciative inquiry.

We contribute to building leadership capability and the organization’s capacity to self-observe and self-improve by offering three types of coaching that are interconnected:

  1. Coaching individual leaders to find their internal compass; to be fully present and aware in each interaction; to surface and challenge assumptions that contradict espoused commitments; to transcend one’s current limiting view of reality and include it in a larger one; to be authentic, life-affirming and capable of “tough love”; to find internal balance and a sense of inner peace.
  2. Coaching teams and groups to tap into the collective intelligence through generative conversations; to talk about what matters, and to name and share emotions that are bridges to the most vital parts of ourselves; to deal with dilemmas and taboos with curiosity and compassion; to build a real community.
  3. Coaching the organization as a whole to choose and use “vital” language and new models in addressing complexity, uncertainty, diversity, paradoxes, and creative tensions; to balance effectiveness and efficiency; to see the limits of objective management criteria and to focus on causes rather than effects; to eliminate systemic obstacles to designing and implementing “simpler ways”; to be an innovative organization by building on the inventiveness of informal networks and the talent of mavericks; to live and contribute to an expanded definition of wealth (or health).

In parallel, we also facilitate learning processes that enhance the internal capability of the organization for:

  1. Holding open dialogues (without seeking immediate resolution) on questions that matter among members of the organization, as well as with customers and other partners. Dialogue connects people by honoring their uniqueness and helping them to find what they have in common that is important to them.
  2. Eliminating policies and activities that hinder creativity and deplete organizational vitality, such as overuse of objective criteria, elaborate planning and reporting mechanisms, unnecessary review meetings.
  3. Developing leadership at all levels through joint inquiry and practice; exploring new metaphors for leaders in moving away from the heroic model.

Embedding this learning process in the organization requires a long-term commitment on the part of leadership. Our role is to enable the organization to build its own capacity and individual skills for this on-going work. The various methods and tools we use are chosen for both their proven effectiveness and their transferability. We are an international network of senior consultants and coaches, dedicated to enhancing institutional vitality, and seeking opportunities to establish relationships with clients based on deep respect, mutual learning and compassion.

 

About Alain

Alain Gauthier’s current focus as an author, consultant, facilitator, educator, and coach is on evolutionary co-leadership development and collective learning as prerequisites for cultivating deep and lasting change in and across organizations. A graduate from H.E.C. (Paris) and an M.B.A. from Stanford University, he has served over the past 45 years a large variety of client organizations in Europe, Japan and North America. He first worked as a senior associate of McKinsey & Company in Europe, then as a partner of a Paris-based consulting firm, and is currently Executive Director of Core Leadership Development and Founder of the Global Transforming Ensemble, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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