Tweet a Book: Why should anyone work here?

I started 2016 off by reading (and tweeting) Goffee and Jones’ new book, Why should anyone work here? What it takes to create an authentic organization. The idea of “tweeting a book” is to read a book cover to cover and tweet quotes as you go. The process causes me to read with greater focus, and I invariably get more out of the book as a result. You should try it!

This blog post captures all the tweets in chronological order and serves as a summary of the book.

INTRODUCTION

In their earlier book, Why should anyone be led by you?, Goffee and Jones call for us to be authentic and to be ourselves, more, with skill. This new book clarifies that organizations significantly influence our ability to be authentic (the “agency” vs. “structure” tension). It’s not enough for you to want to be authentic; your work culture either reinforces or undermines your ability to be your authentic self.

The way the authors moved into this book is by asking people the question, “What would your ideal organization be like? One in which you could be your best self.” And for leaders reading the book, the agenda is driven by this question: “How do you build the best workplace on earth for your people? How do you create the most productive and rewarding working environments possible?”

The authors’ research is organized around six imperatives for the ideal—or “DREAM”—organization, which is also how the chapters of the book are organized:

WhyWorkHere 2

It is a great book. I’ll turn now to the tweets, which are generally chronological beginning with the introduction and running through the six “DREAM” imperatives to the conclusion of the book.

TWEETS (@tonypburgess)

(140 characters or less, using #workhere)

January 3rd

“How do you build the best workplace on earth for your people?”

“This book is an agenda for ldrs & org’s that aim to create the most productive & rewarding working environments possible.”

“At a fundamental level, people want to do good work in org’s in which they believe.”

“People who enjoy what they do/where they work r more productive. Creating a gr8 place to work releases creativity/productivity”

This is a great insight to reflect on:

WhyWorkHere 1

January 4th

What would your ideal (“dream”) company be like? We start with the first imperative, DIFFERENCE:

“Creativity (a key index of performance) increases w/diversity & declines with conformity.”

“Authentic workplaces allow people to be themselves: to have a voice, exercise discretion, express disagreement…”

“Effective organizations are willing & able to leverage the wide range of differences among their people.”

Yet, there’s a tension (trade-off) between fostering individuality/uniqueness on the 1 hand & cohesion/structure on the other

January 6th

“Inherent differences among them generate conflict, which feeds creativity & high engagement. And while most org’s say…” (1/2)

“…they want creativity/innovation [they don’t want] the passionate conflict, edgy relationships & regular failure” often involved (2/2)

“The forces 4 conformity in org’s r strong…Consciously push against that magnetic draw…so people can be who they really r.”

“When a person is able to express his or her uniqueness, both the individual & the org win.”

“Efforts to nurture individuality run up against countervailing efforts to increase org effectiveness…”

Here are my rough notes on Chpt 1 in Goffee & Jones’ new book #workhere? #difference So, where does this leave us?

WhyWorkHere 3

January 7th

On to Goffee & Jones’ 2nd ideal org imperative, Radical Honesty: “I want to know what’s really going on.”

“Transparent honest practices r now seen as the #1 factor in creating corporate reputation. Radical #honesty is a biz necessity.”

#honesty is proactive; speedy; surprises people with its candor; encourages dissent; engages with employees & wider stakeholders.

January 8th

“Power relationships at work distort communication…& explains why much of the info that reaches senior execs is sanitized.”

“People need to feel safe imparting their views…There’s a need to invent mechanisms to ensure it’s ok to surface problems.”

Examples: Have meetings specifically designed to air bad news; have “hopes & fears” discussions.  Openness is a key ldrshp skill.

January 9th

Goffee & Jones’ 3rd imperative for great organizations is “Extra Value” — invest in people & magnify their #strengths.

“The ideal company doesn’t just grow its best employees; it makes all its employees better than they ever thought they could be.”

“Adding value to employees & generating value as an org. are not competing activities. They are symbiotic.” #virtuouscycle

“Join us & we will develop you.” We will help magnify your strengths! This is a powerful commitment for org’s to make.

A question for leaders to consider: “How do you magnify your team members’ #strengths?” Well, first you have to know what they are. Right?

January 11th

Goffee & Jones’ 4th imperative for the ideal org is about standing for something real #authentic

What does it mean for an org to be #authentic?

WhyWorkHere 4

January 12th

#authentic org’s “possess a sense of identity; they obsessively live their values; & their leaders model the company’s values”

Ldrs: be #authentic! “Be yourself, more, with skill.” Know & use your distinctive differences & the weaknesses that make u human

January 14th

“Human beings r empowered by seeing the connection between biography & history…” Do u make that connection in ur organization?

“Does ur org have identity-defining roots? U don’t have to be old to have roots.” How do u tell the story of ur org’s origins?

After giving 3 great ex’s of org HQ reflecting their identity: “Too many [others] convey nothing of the org’s history & culture.”

“The fact is that people want to work for an organization that stands for something.” #workhere #authentic Stand for something real.

January 15th

On to Goffee & Jones’ 5th imperative for the ideal org: “make it meaningful”

How do #leaders ensure the daily work is intrinsically satisfying & meaningful? the 3 C’s: #connection, #community, #cause.

January 16th

Refuse 2 be restricted by the limits of ur role. “Design jobs that allow individuals greater scope for self-expression” #meaning

“What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.” -John Gardner

January 17th

“The paradox of team building: when u build strong teams u may exclude others. Thus, it becomes a ldrshp imperative…” (1/2)

“…as u build a strong team, to also build the #connection to adjacent functions & the wider organization.” (2/2)

“High levels of #sociability at work fuel: creativity, enjoyment & effort.” #relationships

“Where levels of sociability & solidarity r high we describe the org culture as communal” Passion, loyalty & obsession r the norm

January 18th

“THE most significant source of meaning for talented people comes from a shared cause or sense of purpose.” What is yours?

“If co’s organized more 2 draw on & fuel enthusiasms &less 2 maximize efficiency the problem of disengagement would b gone 4ever”

“The task of the Ldr is 2 identify what’s exciting about work & 2 convey it 2 others. Do this well & the energy can b infectious”

“If we want people to fully identify with their org’s & to bring their best selves to work, they need a sense of cause”

“What’s increasingly clear is that identifying the cause may well take u beyond the boundaries of the org to wider communities.”

January 19th

#leaders “We have the opportunity-indeed the obligation-to build a sense of belonging & cooperation.”

January 20th

On to Goffee & Jones’ 6th & final imperative for the ideal org. Have #SIMPLE, widely-agreed on rules.

“The ideal co is not a co w/out rules. It has clear rules that make sense to the people who follow them.” Clarity & Simplicity

“Good rules maximize discretion which, in turn, facilitates problem solving. They unleash initiative rather than suppress it.”

The tendency is toward rule creep & before u know it rule proliferation & complexity, which often leads to reduced profitability.

“Good rules connect to purpose.” What are the rules in your org? Is it clear how they connect to ur org’s #purpose?

“When things go wrong, resist the temptation to invent another rule.” Revisit values & purpose & “strive for simplicity” #trust

January 21st

Just finished Goffee & Jones’ book, “Why Should Anyone Work Here?” #whyworkhere? I’ll close with a few standout quotes from the Conclusion.

“Allowing people to be themselves generates commitment & fosters creativity.” It’s not always easy “but there is a major pay-off”

“Where work feels meaningful, individuals experience a sense of purpose. They can find intrinsic meaning in their jobs…” (1/2)

“…in the way their work connects 2 others & the broader community. They can connect what they do 2 an overarching cause.” (2/2)

“Rethinking our org’s is not just about profit, efficiency, or effectiveness; it’s about crafting recipes for good societies.”

People want “Org’s where they can be themselves, know the truth, grow, believe in the purpose & be given the freedom 2 pursue it.”

NOTE: This last tweet nicely captures Goffee and Jones’ six imperatives for the ideal (DREAM) organization: (1) Be Themselves (Difference); (2) Know the truth (Radical Honesty); (3) Grow (Extra Value); (4, 5) Believe in the purpose (Authenticity & Meaning); (6) Given the freedom to pursue it (Simple rules).

*****

CLOSING COMMENTS

Goffee and Jones emphasize several times that it is rare to find organizations achieving excellence in all six imperatives.  They include a short questionnaire in each chapter that leaders can use to help assess where they stand with each of the imperatives, and they recommend focusing effort on addressing the weakest areas first.  Several of the imperatives are synergistic and reinforce each other; however, some can actually be at odds.  For example, a company with strong identity and cohesion – which are linked to authenticity and meaning – can work against valuing difference. These tensions are good for leaders to be aware of.

Finally, a big idea that is worth repeating is that individual agency to “be authentic” is influenced by the structure of the workplace – the organizational culture. We need cultures that call out authenticity and that allow us to be our best selves.

Why Should Anyone Work Here (Cover)

Book Citation: Goffee, Rob and Gareth Jones (2015). Why should anyone work here? What it takes to create an authentic organization. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

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Authentic Leadership Development

In 75 minutes or less, how do you teach a class on Authentic Leadership Theory?  Background reading is a chapter from Peter Northouse’s, Leadership Theory and Practice.  Today, we started with a clip from the movie Glory that features Matthew Broderick’s character struggling with his role as leader.  Big thanks to leadership teacher/author extraordinaire Doug Crandall for recommending that clip!

QUESTION: When you reflect on your own life, what is one experience, relationship, or event that had a big impact on you? Something you might point back at it and say, “this had a shaping effect on who I am today or helped set the course that brought me to where I am today.”Pair up with someone you might not know so well and share your stories.

This exercise gives us practical experience thinking about the “Critical Life Events” component of Authentic Leadership. It can be an eye opener for people to make connections between their past and who they are today, and it can be an eye opener for people to learn meaningful things about others that they did not know.  Again quoting from Northouse, “Critical life events act as catalysts for change. Shamir and Eilam (2005) argued that authentic leadership rests heavily on the insights people attach to their life experiences. When leaders tell their life stories, they gain greater self-knowledge, more clarity about who they are, and a better understanding of their role. By understanding their own life experiences, leaders become more authentic.”  And, I would add, drawing on Goffee and Jones, telling our life stories is a way to “show” ourselves to those we work with (knowing ourselves isn’t enough, we must also show ourselves).

“Authentic leadership is a complex process that emphasizes the development of qualities that help leaders to be perceived as trustworthy and believable by their followers.  The leader’s job is to learn to develop these qualities and apply them to the common good as they serve others” (Northouse, p. 221).

Drawing heavily on Bruce Avolio and colleagues, Northouse shares a model for Authentic Leadership.  We finished class by going through the model (we barely scratched the surface).  The four components that are the basis for authentic leadership are: Self-Awareness, Internalized Moral Perspective, Balanced Processing, and Relational Transparency. Three factors influence how those four components work, which we can think of as setting the conditions and context that allows those four components to work.  They are: Positive Psychological Capacities (confidence, hope, optimism, resilience), Moral Reasoning, and Critical Life Events.

One observation I’d like to make is that the “Internalized Moral Perspective” and “Balanced Processing” components exist in tension and balance each other out.  Think about it, we want a leader with strong convictions who doesn’t cave to pressure or change willy nilly while we also want that same leader to listen to us and genuinely consider when we have an informed opinion that is at odds with his position.  So, we find leaders are authentic when their actions are aligned with their beliefs (words and deeds match) and they fully consider others’ viewpoints before they make decisions.

With Leader-Member-Exchange, we asked ourselves: If in fact having more high-quality leader-subordinate interactions is a good thing, how do leaders create (or at least set the conditions for) high-quality relationships with their subordinates?  

QUESTION TO REFLECT ON: How might Authentic Leadership provide you a pathway (or set the conditions) for you to develop high-quality relationships with the people you work with? (What, if any, is the connection between L-M-X and Authentic Leadership Theory?)

Go deeper: Authentic Leadership: Development and Validation of a Theory-Based Measure

Bruce Avolio, The High Impact Leader

Bill George, True North

Goffee and Jones, Why Should Anyone Be Led by YOU? 

PS. Doesn’t this course sound awesome? 

Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?

This is a great ten minute video with Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones relating the research that went into their fantastic book, Why Should Anyone Be Led By You.

Followers want:

  • Community
  • Authenticity
  • Significance
  • Excitement

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What does it mean to be a community builder as a leader?
  2. Are you authentic?  Do you take your real self to work? Authentic leaders know themselves and “show” themselves — they aren’t perfect — and they genuinely want the best for their followers and the organization.
  3. Do you appreciate your followers’ contribution? Are you a source of significance for your followers?
  4. Are you a source of energy, edge, and passion — genuine excitement — for your team?
  5. Who decides?  (not you! Your followers decide)
Reflection: I love the connection between this 4th question about excitement and the question that Bob Sutton shared that Rob Cross asks: “After you talk to this person, do you have more or less energy?”  I aspire to be the kind of person that gives people more energy.  How about you?  Positive. Inspired. Energized.  Let’s serve up some pie!

Leader Member Exchange Theory

I had the privilege of teaching a class today on Leader-Member-Exchange theory, drawing heavily from Peter Northhouse’s, Leadership: Theory and Practice. The basic concept for the class follows:

QUESTION:  What is LMX Theory?  What makes it unique compared to other theories in the course?

Notes: Initially this was a descriptive theory, describing what was happening in organizations.  Leaders have unique relationships with each of their subordinates. The theory is focused on the interactions between leaders and led and introduces “leadership” from a relational perspective. Researchers found that employees could be generally categorized into two groups: the “in” and the “out” group, where the in group employees had a relationship with the leader that went beyond the formal role relationship.  These employees receive extra influence, opportunities, and rewards.  The out-group employees did what was expected based on their formal role descriptions, and they received standard job benefits.

QUESTION: What does this mean from the “subordinate’s” perspective?  From the “Leader’s” perspective?

Imagine that I am the boss and all of you are sales reps that work for me.  You just went to a training program where you learned all about LMX.  The veil has been lifted, and you are back at work.  How is this new knowledge changing the way you see things?  What are you looking for? What are you thinking about?

Forget the above scenario.  You are the boss and YOU just went on that biz training program and learned all there is to know about LMX. The veil has been lifted.  What do you do with your new knowledge?  As you return to work, what are you looking for?  What are you thinking about?

I then read from Made to Stick, a book by Chip and Dan Heath — (p. 111-113) the part where they relay the famous “blue eye, brown eye” experiment in which students were grouped and discriminated against based on their eye color. [read about it]

I related two other research examples, one of which was the “Pygmalion Effect” work done by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson in the 1960s whereby they labeled students as “poised for intellectual growth this year.”  Those randomly chosen students thought they were “smart” and so did their teachers.  It had an effect on what they learned and how they did in school.  It created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

QUESTION: How does this knowledge connect to what we are talking about with LMX?

QUESTION: What has the LMX research shown about the benefits of being in the “in group” or being in an organization that is characterized by high-quality leader-member exchanges?  …for the employees?  …for the organization?

Notes: Less employee turnover, greater organizational commitment, more promotions. Employees feel better, accomplish more, are more dependable, communicative, involved, have more energy, and are even more creative.  They have more access to the boss and information, receive preferential treatment, better feedback, etc.

QUESTION: Can you imagine a person who might not want to be in the “in group” for whatever reason?  Notes: e.g., someone that is not in a position due to family or other constraints to give of themselves so much or to take on the additional roles and commitment that being in the “in group” entails.  Perhaps an employee seeks meaning outside of the “day job” and is perfectly satisfied sticking to the formal role. 

QUESTION: With that type of individual aside…Given this research, does it make sense to take a prescriptive approach — and to seek to expand the “in group” as much as possible? IOW, should our goal be to move everyone into the “in group”?  Is that even possible?

QUESTION: Describe what a high quality leader-member exchange (aka, a really positive leader/subordinate relationship) looks like in action?  Describe the kind of relationship you think would be really effective for leaders and their employees to have.


QUESTION:
What is “leadership making” according to LMX Theory?  How do you set the conditions for more employees to move from the “out” to the “in” group — or from the periphery to the core, where the core is a place of deeper engagement, meaning, commitment, and identity?

Notes: Moving from being a “Stranger” to being an “Acquaintance” to creating a “Mature Partnership.”  Leadership making is an intentional focus on developing high-trust, mutually beneficial relationships with ones employees (and seeing each relationship as unique).  Interactions between the leader and the led are characterized by mutual trust, respect, and commitment/obligation.  In the process, the goals of the leader, followers, and the organization are all advanced.

CONTINUE TO THINK ABOUT: How do leaders create (or at least set the conditions for) high-quality relationships with their Soldiers (or employees)?

Personal Reflection: LMX elevates the importance of the relationship between the leader and the led.  It suggests, or leads one to believe, that the main source of meaning and commitment at work is driven by the relationship with the boss. What does that mean for those unlucky enough to be stuck with a horrible boss?  What is missing with this strict focus on the leader and the led?  For one, it leaves out the “mission” or “purpose” of the organization as well as the meaning and impact of peer-to-peer relationships.  A missing component is how much you believe in the purpose of the organization and the people that you work with.

I’m seeing a connection between LMX and some of my own work with core-group theory and the process whereby members of an informal community (or voluntary organization) move from the periphery to the core as far as their engagement and participation.  The “in-group out-group” aspect of LMX is a different model for looking at movement from the periphery to the core.  I like the focus of LMX on interactions between leaders and employees or “potential leaders.”  The idea of “Leadership Making” is connected to this and to leader development more broadly.  I’d like to read more about that topic.

I really enjoyed diving into this today!