For most of the past 35 years my focus was mainly on how to plan and to execute. While I have always known that the people side was really important, my inclination was to focus more on the structure and process sides, on the logical side. It was only late in life that it dawned on me that 80% of my focus should be on the people side.
The real challenge of a consultant in the 21st century is to assist people in business to firstly find their personal voices, then the voices of their employees, and, lastly, their business voice.
Most of my clients are successful and even very successful. Many have the makings of greatness. Climbing to the next level really requires standing back from the traditional approach of placing the main emphasis on growing your business. Rather seriously focus on growing your people. They will repay you by growing your business. Give serious thought about your role as a leader and manager; find you voice and think whether others in your organisation have found their voices. If not, how should you assist them?
I realized that the process of finding your own personal voice and those within one’s organisation could be approached simultaneously. Do both.
Like many of my clients, I bought Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People years ago. It appeared in 1989. I bought my copy in 1993. Like most I was intrigued by its content. A small part of it became part of my thinking and approach. In the late nineties, after having become a consultant and after having ploughed through many, many business publications, I reread 7 Habits. I was surprised how well Covey covered the main principles of running a business and how he did so in a refreshingly different manner than most business authors. He focused on the individual – who always has a choice.
Covey’s The 8th Habit (2004) is even more thought-provoking. I must admit, as a business consultant I would not have easily picked up any of these two books as they seemed far removed from the hard-nosed business approaches which most business authors propagate. But by 2004 about 95% of the Fortune 100 companies were clients of FranklinCovey as were more than 75% of the Fortune 500. Thousands of small and mid-sized businesses, government and educational institutions – exactly my client base – heeded the principles which he furthered in these two books. His soft approach obviously struck a chord in many organisations. It certainly did with me.
Covey addresses the four dimensions of being a person: Body (physical / economic), mind (mental), heart (emotional / social) and spirit (spiritual). These are linked to four corresponding intelligences or capacities: Physical Intelligence (PQ), Mental Intelligence (IQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Spiritual Intelligence (SQ). Leaders have to address and nurture all four.
It is easy to agree with Covey that much of the leadership and management style which is still being used hails from the Industrial Age when workers were regarded as production tools or “things”, when clocks were watched and where every action was controlled. Hands were hired, not brains. The carrot & stick method prevails to this day in most companies. The top still does planning and decision-making. The rest do as they are told. Instructions are given less harshly and more politely. What has changed?
A fundamental paradigm shift is required. But first understand the new business paradigm.
We are now in the Information/Knowledge Age and especially the younger X and Y generations will not take matters quietly and suffer. Their parents know it but their employers often do not. When will employers realize that focusing strongly on your people is going to make a positive difference to every part of your organisation – including your bottom line? But a paradigm shift requires more than a slight change in behavior.
Let’s continue this discussion in a few future posts.
Have the expectations of employees changed? What is your opinion as owner? If you are an employee (I prefer “team member”), how do you experience your work place? Do you work with passion? Are you appreciated? Or are you forever looking out for greener pastures?
Do you have a life?
Albertkeywords: human resources, organisation, talents, Voice