To create and sustain momentum in a collective dynamics, a leader must deliberately create special, memorable moments in the organization for the benefit of all stakeholders.
There are two ways by which leaders create moments. The first is through actions and the second is through events or a combination of both. Suffice it to say that whichever way he does it, it must be deliberate, memorable and inspiring.
Every collective must be guided by a vision if it wants to be successful and sustainable. A team without a collective vision is nothing but an association of strange bedfellows. In time, a little conflict could result in emotional conflagrations that could disintegrate the association. For this reason, leaders who want to sustain momentum must constantly create moments of inspiration. Such moments help to remind everyone about the essence of the collective vision and the attendant guiding values. The scriptures have well said that where vision is lacking, people soon cast off all sense of restraint. Moments of inspiration could be created by engaging followers on a personal level to discuss issues that pertain to their personal lives in a way that, in a manner of feeling obliged, challenges and inspires them to deeper commitments to the collective. Moments of inspiration can also take the form of strategy or ideation sessions where a “war room” situation is created that fires up the imagination and enhances the contribution capacity of participants.
The power of execution in many organizations is vested in only a few people, usually at management level. The implication of this is that if officials in whom such authority resides are not on ground or indisposed, certain things cannot get done. If the critical execution gap is not filled at the appropriate time, many things suffer and many people’s functions in the organization may actually be hampered. Leaders must therefore diffuse that authority through the organization by creating moments of empowerment for their followers. Empowerment can come through various means ranging from delegation of responsibility to the actual empowerment of subordinate officers to commit the organization up to certain limits. A supermarket chain was said to have given even its floor officers to commit the company to the tune of $2500, if need be, in going to great lengths to satisfy the customer. Their customer approval rating went up significantly and so did bottom-line! Everyone likes to feel ‘in charge’. The only way to know if any man will be responsible is to empower him with responsibility. Education is also a significant form of empowerment. Leaders should take special interest in the training and personal development of their followers. Many leaders achieve this by making almost every meeting with their followers a learning experience. Better still, they simply create a learning organization instead of sporadic, knee-jerk training programs. They have no hesitation encouraging and sometimes aiding the educationally deficient to get further education.
Sensitivity to the emotional state of their followers requires that leaders create moments of encouragement when they deliberately affirm their followers. At such times, they are extravagant with praise, privately and publicly, of the good works of their followers. Leaders must constantly create moments when they make the people around them, no matter how subordinate their status, feel good about themselves. Such moments actually build up the followers’ self-esteem and earn respect for the leader. The corollary is a desire to contribute significantly to the organization’s progress. Secondly, they stand with their followers through moments of crisis in a way that reassures their followers that someone has got their backs. When leaders demonstrate empathy, walking where their followers walk, they create in followers a deep sense of obligation.
Last year, I was privileged to facilitate sessions on Team Bonding for two different corporate organizations, one in telecoms and the other a pensions management organization. One of the fallouts of both meetings was the team exercise that required interactions within group dynamics where each person had to work with a group comprising largely people they had never seriously related with even though they all worked in the same organization. From the feedback at the end of each of the two programs, the exercise remained indelible in the participants’ minds because for many of them, that helped them to correct some misinformed opinions they had about some of the people they had to work with! Sitting down at the end of the program to unwind, dine and dance with people who hitherto were total strangers even though colleagues at work, was the icing on the cake. To several participants, it was an unforgettable experience. Synergy only makes sense when members of the team can bond and trust one another. A team is not just a group of people working together but a group of people trusting one another. Every team is only as strong as its bond of trust.
Everyone has something to say. As they say, opinions are like noses, everyone has them! And given the opportunity, everyone can give an opinion on how the organization can best move forward. There is no useless idea. Sometimes, the idea that appeared very ridiculous at first may be the one that would bring a solution to the problems at hand and it could have come from a least expected person. No matter how dedicated and loyal a follower may be, there would be several issues and areas of dissent from the leader’s point of view. When there is no conducive atmosphere created for him to express his misgivings, he begins to withdraw into himself and begins to sabotage the organization from within by adopting a “siddon look” approach to serious issues. Whether you will like what they say or not, or how they say it, give people room to express themselves. You and the organization would be the better for it.
What do you think would happen if the CEO of a large organization with about one thousand people on the payroll would send an e-mail or a text message using his personal number to every employee on their birthdays or wedding anniversary? No marks for answering right. We all love to be celebrated, don’t we? Other moments of celebration a leader should create include award ceremonies where people who have performed well are publicly recognized and rewarded through promotion, awards, cash bonuses, etc.
When leaders strategically create memorable moments – both for individuals and the collective, people work as if on steroids because they feel that they are part of something that is worth their while and for which they are willing to invest a significant portion of their lives.
When their leader asks them to jump, they simply ask, “How high?”
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!