Michael F. Broom, Ph.D. is an Organizational Psychologist who as worked for over 40 years as an executive coach, organizational facilitator, and trainer. Throughout those 25 years he has also been very involved in the education of those interested in organizational and social change. At Johns Hopkins University, he has been a full-time (1978-83) and part-time (1983-2001) faculty member of the Graduate Program in Applied Behavioral Science. At Georgetown University he has been adjunct faculty for the Certificate Program in Organizational Development. He was also adjunct faculty in the American University/National Training Lab (NTL) masters programs. For NTL he has led a number of graduate programs including Personal and Organizational Power, and the Graduate Students Professional Development Program. He was on the board of directors of the NTL Institute in Applied Behavioral Science, and chaired its Transformative Social Change Committee. He is the author of two books: The Infinite Organization and Power, The Infinite Game with Dr. Donald Klein.
Self-Mastery and conscious use of self have a broad purview. We use ourselves with everything we do, think, feel, and believe. Most of the time our automatic behaviors and thoughts serve us well. No mastery is needed. However, when we want to shift the dysfunctions around us including our own, being on automatic can be counterproductive.
Self-Mastery and the Ways We Waste Our Time and Energy
Time is a resource. And leaders never have enough of it. There are staffs to be managed, customers to coddled, finances to figured out, superiors to satisfy, and the partner and kids at home to be pleased and loved. The list goes on and on. Time’s a wastin’. Yet, we rarely think about the things we do on automatic which waste time and energy. I’m not talking about watching TV, resting, having a glass of wine, or playing with the kids. Those activities are not wasteful. They are useful for both pleasure and energy renewal. Do them well.
It’s the complaining, blaming, worrying, making excuses, and rationalizing that concern us. Procrastinating is another—too often I go shopping or clean the kitchen floor when I should work on this article. Another is analyzing for the 30th time how I’ll talk my editor into giving me a bigger advance. Arguing and trying to convince are too rarely useful to be anything but energy sponges.
When life isn’t working for you, when you aren’t getting the results you want, when your followers are stumbling around as you are; what to do? These situations happen to us all. At these times, we most need the power of conscious choice. We make many choices every day. We don’t notice most of them. Most are pre-made, automatic habits that require no conscious thought. We go through our routines: we wash up, have breakfast, check the phone, drive to wherever we are going, and interact with those around us. On most days, we give those actions barely a moment’s thought. It’s all automatic and works well…unless it doesn’t. Even then, still on automatic, we blame, complain, make excuses, and worry. We feel sorry for ourselves. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Such a waste of perfectly good energy.
The pleasures of fall colors in Maine, a sunset in the Caribbean, a
waterfall veiling into the Columbia River are experiences
we prize as different from our everyday life. We save our money to make them
the focal point of vacations. We regale our friends with stories about such
wonder. Differences are the source of rare beauty and joy. Viva
Then there are the differences that source the mutilations of poverty,
racism, sexism, and war. That are behind the dysfunctions of teams, families.
That drive us to avoid conversations about politics and religion. That have us
bend ourselves into the shape of those we see as more potent than we are. The
differences of opinion, thought, and belief we dare not share in fear of
disapproval and ostracism.
Great leaders are going
someplace extraordinary and lots of people follow them! Leaders in most organizations
know where they want to go. Keeping followers aligned and in sync to get there,
however, can be frustrating. Here are seven areas to turn that frustration into
excitement. All of the questions are born from the two primary aspects of leadership:
They have some place to go, and they have people following them!
Not too long ago I was having dinner with a client in the midst of a project that was going well. At some point my client looked up at me and said, “I’m glad you’re not one of those OD people.” After recovering from my surprise, we had a good discussion about what OD is and isn’t. Here is a summary of that discussion.
Michael F. Broom, Ph.D.
Excerpted from his book The Infinite Organization
Consensus decision-making has the reputation of being very time-consuming. It needn’t be if the steps outlined below are followed. The failure of most supposed consensus procedures result from failing to ask those objecting if they are willing to accede to the proposition work even though they are not in full agreement with it.
You used all of your skills to move your team from being dysfunctional to one with a high level of productivity, full engagement of all team members, and they even had some fun together. But will your success last? Will they revert back to dysfunction when you can’t be there? Did you built in the mechanisms to make your changes sustainable?
An important key to having great teams and organizations is their sense of safety. Their members feel free to speak, to dissent, to be radical, and even outlandish. This freedom is key to having high levels of productivity, engagement, and creativity. In so many organizations and teams such freedom has been stifled. Cultures and norms of group think, submissiveness, and ennui develop when team members sense that being different is risky or useless. What a waste of human capital, of human energy, of human beings!
Here are two ideas I’ve found useful toward creating an environment of safety in teams and organizations. Both level the playing field where those involved see each other as human beings rather than boss and subordinate, sales and manufacturing, or some other form of more power and less power.
The CEO is frustrated! She is the CEO of a major health care organization and, like many other organization leaders, believes in teams. She has project teams, functional teams, cross-functional teams, process improvement teams, etc. A few of those teams work very well and others not so well. She wishes she could clone the leaders of her good teams and rid herself of the others. That so many of her teams are mediocre really bugs her! She’s got the dysfunctional team blues.