Monday, August 24, 2009

Personal - Organizational Dissonance

Regardless of our role in an organization, I suspect that just about everyone has experienced times when in their own personal life journey they are confronted with the realization that they don’t like who they have `to be’ in order to be successful in their current organization.
This week I found myself in a number of conversations in which there was a recurring theme - the individuals were asking `how do I find an organization that is aligned with my values, where I can engage in work that is meaningful to me and is personally satisfying, and where I can make a difference?’ In each case the individual was well educated and highly skilled in their chosen profession. They wanted to do more than practice their skills, they wanted to make a difference and were frustrated by the systems in which they found themselves working. They were experiencing organizational - personal dissonance.
I have been in that place of dissonance and for me the ultimate outcome was that I left the organization – preferring to give up the security of organizational life for consulting and contract work where I could work with people I enjoyed, doing work that I was passionate about, and doing work in a way that was aligned with my values.
Organizations today cannot afford to lose employees who want to bring more than just their technical competencies to the workplace. People will join an organization that allows them to use their technical skills, but they will leave organizations that do not allow them to engage their areas of passionate interest – including their emotional, relational, and spiritual passions. How many organizations do you know that view their people as `talent to be managed’ or as `discrete skill sets’ to be plugged into an organizational need rather than as whole and integrated individual with hopes, dreams and needs for making a difference.
In my conversations this week I heard expressed both passion and frustration. There was an understanding of the need for their organization to make money and to balance their budgets – but there was a sense that their organizations were falling short of their responsibility to make positive contributions to their communities and the clients that they served – and that making money and balancing budgets did not have to be at odds with the social responsibility of the organization to people and communities.
I don’t believe that there is a perfect organization out there – all organizations are challenged to balance the often competing agendas required to be a sustainable organization. That many organizations have remained focused on the financial bottom line to the neglect of engaging the creativity and passions of their employees’ is a reality. However as organizations seek to hold a competitive niche in the marketplace and retain highly skilled staff, engaging staff and fostering creative and innovative thinking is the organizational leadership challenge of the day. Creating a workplace that values the passions of staff will require leadership that appreciates diversity in perspectives, can be inclusive of all that individuals bring to the workplace (and not just their technical skills), can leverage differences to foster creative solutions to organizational and societal problems, and thus improve organizational effectiveness.
As leaders, how are we challenging and developing our own leadership to lead from a place of valuing diversity, leveraging differences, and practicing inclusivity. Do I as a leader not also have a responsibility to examine my leadership paradigm and decide whether or not I need to shift my view of leadership as being centered in positional authority, hierarchy, and control and move towards one that values interconnectedness, creativity, and wholeness? Can I choose to lead so that my organization becomes the organization that I want to be a part of?
At The Acacia Group we believe passionately that a new leadership model and paradigm is needed and that the shift requires a transformation of leaders before an organizational transformation can occur. We have developed and offer socially responsible leadership residencies through which individuals have opportunities for transformative learning – preparing them to live and lead as socially responsible leaders in their community and their organizations.Check out our website for upcoming residences at , sign up for our blogs at and join us as we twitter at

1 comment: