When addressing organizational pain points, the answers are almost always defined in terms of talent and culture. Our people need to step up. They need to be more engaged, more creative; they need to innovate. And we need more A-players! And more/better training. And more accountability.
But the real solves are almost always in terms of structure, policy, and process. Structure, policy, and process create the context in which people work.
Structure drives behavior. And, by extension, culture.
Who own these real solves? Leaders.
Leaders are productively powerful when they intervene on the organization’s technical system — structure, policy, process. They are counterproductive and ineffectual when they attempt to exert their influence directly on their people.
My work — in essence — is getting leaders to pivot from taking action on people (the symptomatic solutions) to acting on structure, policy, and process (where there’s real possibility for game-changing results).
It’s hard work. I fail wayyyy more than I succeed.
But, to sustain me, I engage in a bit of fairy tale: every time I influence a leader to think differently and enact the better answer, an angel gets her wings.
Clarence has so many colleagues that are waiting!