Monday, September 8, 2008

Three Vital Principles for Creating WE

Learning to manage the three critical dynamics for creating a WE-centric workplace is the key to success. First, you learn to manage your own reactions; second, you put your ego behind you; and third, you focus on the challenges facing the organization and build healthy, mutually beneficial relationships with others. Your ability to lead will increase exponentially, and you will enhance your ability to create inspiring environments where people work together for mutual gain, growth, and understanding.


Rather than finding yourself tangled up in conversations about blame and fear and frustrations about what is not happening at work, you establish a positive context for transformation by engaging people in ongoing and iterative conversations about what has, can, and will work to create a transformation. In doing so, you focus on what needs to happen to address the challenges facing the organization and, with that focus and commitment, you develop into the best company possible, as a WE. Rather than trying to fix the past, you focus on creating the future with others. It is an experience at once exhilarating, engaging, and profound.

When colleagues work in concert, they learn from each other and are more apt to develop the higher-level skills and wisdom needed to meet the organization's performance goals. When we connect, we learn how to turn breakdowns into breakthroughs-we become high performing. When leaders turn to others for advice, suggestions, feedback, and points of view, and value them, they create a community of colleagues that look forward to coming to work every day.

Dissolve Cultural Boundaries

Even though our communication technologies enable us to dissolve boundaries of space and time and interconnect us in exciting new ways, we are still faced with the same old human challenge: to dissolve cultural and psychological boundaries among colleagues to build trust and to access the powerful people-resources we bring into our businesses.

WE-centric leaders know how to lift people out of fear, frustration, and anger, which cause people to disengage from each other. They know how to create a culture that enables colleagues to be connected, engaged, and involved in creating and living the values and vision of the company.

WE-centric leaders know that people become reactive when they feel disconnected. They understand that when people feel out of the loop, they project their anxiety onto others, create more fear, and blame others for what is missing in their lives. When we are rejected, we reject back and disengage.

Healthy Generative Culture

I-Centric Universe - I am the center of the universe - creates:
  • Territoriality and conflict
  • Lack of sensitivity
  • Indirect communication
WE-Centric Universe - WE are the center of the universe - creates:
  • Creativity and growth
  • Sensitivity and mutual support
  • Feedback rich, vital conversations

Hardwiring the DNA of Organizational Life

As a leader, you have the ability to shape and craft the experiences people have at work by understanding how to reduce fear and inner focus and create environments that facilitate enhanced sensitivity, mutual support, vital communication, and engagement in the business strategy.

When we live in toxic fear-based environments, we can become unhealthy in mind and spirit. We can react like cancer cells-like cells that stop communicating with the immune system that is designed to protect the whole body, cells that start to grow all over because they have lost their sensitivity to other cells, and cells that create roots and lock themselves in isolation, drawing nourishment from the body and weakening it. The parallel is striking.

When we live in fear, we withdraw, build our Ladder of Conclusions (make assumptions and interpretations based on fear), imagine others are out to get us, and react accordingly. We stop turning to others for help, and we stop taking feedback and advice from others. What happens at the cellular level happens at the organizational level.

Universal Fears and Universal Desires

Universal Fears:
  • Being excluded . . . so we create "old-boy networks" and exclude others first.
  • Being rejected . . . so we learn how to reject first.
  • Being judged unfairly . . . so we criticize and blame others.
  • Failing . . . so we avoid taking risks and making mistakes.
  • Losing power . . . so we intimidate others to get power.
  • Feeling stupid . . . so we either don't speak up or speak too much.
  • Looking bad in front of others . . . so we save face.
Universal Desires:
  • Be included on a winning team.
  • Be appreciated and valued.
  • Be successful.
  • Learn, grow, and explore.
  • Be creative and contribute.
  • Have a leadership voice.
  • Have meaning and purpose.
When we perceive the world through a lens of fear, our egos drive us into habit patterns of protection and, without realizing it, we learn over time to incorporate defensive behavior patterns into our daily routines. Too often, we turn away from others when we are coming from protective behaviors, rather than turning to others for help in making vital changes in our lives.

Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books:

Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386



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