Xiamen, Fujian Province
I believe that every person has an inherent desire to master some activity and excel in it. If I look at how people engage in computer games and sport, then it would appear to me that this desire to master something and excel at it is a pretty universal characteristic. Furthermore, there is a deep satisfaction in accomplishing something – in seeing something that is done, and then watch it work, or just watch it “be”, for a few moments.
Each of us has been designed to be good at certain things, to enjoy certain things, and in most cases to enjoy at least some of the things we are good at. When we align our design and our purpose with what we do most of the day, by finding ways and opportunities to do more and more of what we love and are naturally good at, every day, our chances of success are greatly increased.
Apart from the general dignity of giving someone a job, the workplace has the potential to give people the higher dignity of being recognized as excellent at some kind of work, giving the opportunity and recognition for excellence that we have been designed to experience. It also gives the dignity that comes with knowing that I am a master of my trade, and that the work I’ve completed, is of the highest craftsmanship. Wholeness for a human being includes the professional identity that God has designed into his and her very being.
These concepts of excellence, mastery and craftsmanship are all core concepts of sustainable success. Gallup’s research, amongst others, has shown that the way people are treated in their workplaces, has a direct impact on their performance. Whether or not the team allows people to discover and start working in their strengths – the areas where they can excel and master things that they are interested and passionate about, has a very strong correlation with whether or not that team will produce outstanding results in terms of business performance.
Just like an important aspect of being a whole individual is a clear view and understanding of my purpose and design, and how those align, so teams and organisations must understand their own purpose, and how their design supports that purpose. As a leader you must understand the purpose for which your team and organisation exist, and the goals you want to achieve, very clearly. Based on this one of the best things you can do for yourself and your organisation is to find and select people based on strengths that align with your organisation and team’s design and purpose, as part of designing and building your team and the teams that make up your organisation.
As an individual, looking for the place and the team where your strengths will add the most value is an important part of your own path to success.
We all know that broken things don’t tend to work so well. In the same way, broken organisations don’t work as well as whole ones. When I was studying organisational psychology, I was introduced to the concept of thinking about organisations as having personality and character, just like people. Also, just like people, organisations can be psychologically well, or they can be broken. Just like psychological challenges can prevent individuals from excelling, so dysfunctionality, or brokenness, in the workplace, can prevent the organisation from excelling, or even lead to utter failure.
We have all experienced some of the effects of broken organisations: an overbearing boss who refuses to see that he is reinforcing a policy that is bringing damage to the organisation; a business owner who is exploiting labour for the sake of exorbitant profits; being in a client facing job and feeling your hands are tied to make a simple decision that will benefit the client and the company at the same time.
When we are working in a broken workplace, it creates obstacles to our excellence. Unpleasant emotions such as high levels of fear, anxiety, stress, and frustration are common in broken workplaces. As human beings we respond to our emotions, whether we want to or not. Deliberately or sub-consciously we try to protect ourselves from harm, and broken workplaces create behaviours that are more focused on self-preservation than organisational success.
What we tend to often forget when we are working in these organisations, is that there is actually no such thing as “the organisation.” Every policy that exists in the organisation was made by a person, or a team. Every decision that is made is made by an individual, or a team of individuals.
In many cases—many more than what we tend to realize, these decisions and policies were not created because of a rational process of trying to really create win-win solutions for all stakeholders, but are made and created as people are trying to grapple with and overcome our own insecurities, and uncertainties, and mistrust of each other.
In other cases these were simply created because insight into organisations was clouded by a lack of clear insight and a lack of understanding and wisdom regarding the cause and effect relationships in the environments.
The brokenness that we see in our organisations is the result of the brokenness of individuals, that they bring into their teams, and that the teams in turn bring into the organisation.
On the other hand, whole leaders and whole team members are the building blocks of whole teams, and whole teams are the building blocks of whole organisations, which are the building blocks of whole societies and countries.
In whole workplaces, people can confidently bring their strengths and talents forward. They can speak up when they see something not working so well, without fear of some insecure boss trying to bring them down. They can freely give and receive feedback without feeling that their colleagues are trying to blame or shame them.
Whole workplaces are filled with emotions such as hope, inspiration, faith, vision, excellence, quality awareness, dignity, mutual concern and respect, honour, clarity, focus – and so the list goes on. These emotions create an internal drive in people to perform well because of our inherent human desire to excel, rather than to be driven by the fear of what might happen if I fail. This change in motivation is extremely powerful in driving up individual, team and organisational performance.
Creating whole and healing workplaces is an art and a skill which must be learnt, mastered, and taught. The book of proverbs teaches us that God desires to pour out knowledge, insight, wisdom and understanding on those who are willing to seek for it. Identifying the broken policies and procedures in your organisation, challenging them, and figuring out how to change them, may not be always the easiest thing to do – but it must be done.
Pro 2:3-11 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
I believe that moving from brokenness to wholeness at every level in our workplaces is the theme of God’s next major move across the face of the earth.
This will create a winning situation for everyone, except for the forces of darkness that like to keep people in brokenness and bondage. As organisations become whole, their own success will increase, and the people working as part of those organisations will find their own lives enriched emotionally, spiritually, and materially.
Pro 11:10-11 (NIV) When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices. When the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted.
Blessings to you
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Xiamen, Fujian Province