Organizations today are globally exposed and connected with transparency and collaboration dictating conduct. Conversations, decisions, actions are not restricted to the closed confines of boardrooms and are beyond leadership jurisdiction and control. Information is out there, for all stakeholders to access, understand and interpret. This clearly challenges the earlier thought process, of organizations veiling interactions, molding and presenting it in formats that did not defy reputations, missions, and value systems. The test today, however, is not of only creating or managing reputations, but that of alignment- alignment of intention and impact, of mindsets and perceptions, and of values and behaviors. The demand for transparency and responsibility has never been this intense and the sooner organizations begin to recognize and exercise it, the faster they will embark upon their journeys in significance. Today, every form of stakeholder is an active participant in the functioning of business, influencing its present and future. Human Operating Systems with frameworks of mindfulness and empathy, and cultures that are formed through values based behaviors, are accepted, revered and recommended. When management operates from a point of view that reflects the values of the firm and defines the organization’s purpose of existence, the narratives that emerge automatically create stories which spell inspiration and passion. Such organizations possess cultures that go beyond the realm of competencies, reaching deep into employee mindsets, and belief systems. Such cultures then operate in the space of good behavior, responsibility, significance, and above all, trust. Such cultures are then resilient in the time of crises, in fact emerging stronger, insightful, and most importantly, with the faith of their stakeholders intact.
The question is, how then can organizations work towards creating these cultures? The answer to this points at the source – the purpose of the existence of the organization; Its mission, its vision. The program which defines the way in which the organization operates has to be hardwired with the mission and the vision of the firm. Its DNA needs to formed by the values that define it. Values are the things and attributes that are most important to the organization. They define the expectations of the organization. They help clarify priorities when faced with tough decisions. Values in action reflect who or what the organization is and what it wants to be The way in which policies are formed and executed, information is shared, decisions are made, leadership behaves, employees are treated, the organizations commitment to its customers and stakeholders – all have to mirror the values which the organization considers non-negotiable. The more the organization behaves in such a way, echoing its core attributes, the more the employees will embody and foster behaviors which further amplify the organizations significance. Trust begets trust, it is said, and the more you trust, the more you shall be trusted. It is an equation which when solved leads to exponentially positive outcomes. Articulating the organization’s core attributes of significance, becomes the critical start-point. The challenge, however, is not limited to being aware, but to its interpretation in daily work life, the conditioning and mechanism of the organization.
Translating values into behaviors involves 3 stages. It begins with defining what is expected- building a common lens through which we consider everything we do, and ensuring this is communicated across the organization. It means listening to each other and having conversations to understand what living the brand takes, to build the company’s future together. The second stage is aligning business strategies with enterprise plans and embedding key values into how we hire, train, reward, measure, decide, build, filter, etc. Stage three is advocacy and supporting each other in living the values everyday. The define- embed- advocate journey is time consuming, and one that requires practice. One may not get it right the first time, but the intention and expectations driving the journey will always prod up the organization in faltering times. Selecting the right values that inspire teams to create those experiences every day, to navigate the milieu of organizational worklife, will then foster the ‘behavior’ wave, and embed it into the DNA of the firm. Understanding and iterating to arrive at the right level of detail and complexity to meet the needs of all stakeholders, will generate the precise language that is understood and spoken across the whole organization. Eventually, every parameter of success measured, will be a reflection of this norm.
This journey of significance heralds the arrival of the organization into the Age of Behavior!