Perhaps you’re a business owner or executive who knows things could be better but you aren’t getting traction? Maybe you can relate to the following example of one of our clients:
“Christine” was a bank executive aching to bring her organization into the 21st century. So much of her day was spent fielding questions with answers that seemed so obvious that she wondered if people weren’t paid to think. To some degree that was true. Unfortunately, the processes they relied on as a substitute weren’t much better.
It was like the story of the recipe for pot roast handed down for generations that called for the ends to be cut off. It was long forgotten that the reason was due to the size of great grandma’s pan, and not for the actual recipe.
The more she sought to solve the problems, the more gargantuan the task seemed. She tried to resign herself to stop rocking the boat. Christine was already successful, just not satisfied. But our clients are not the complacent types. They are curious, they are learners and they can’t quell their passions.
But sometimes the determination that gets you to the top also blinds you.
Sometimes having all the answers is not the answer, as Christine discovered. When we first met Christine she had an almost mocking fantasy about the organizational and culture changes that were needed. The image of Sisyphus pushing the boulder uphill came up often.
While the shift that took place is hard to describe, we can tell you that it had everything to do with partnership. We made it safe for Christine to confront her view of reality and she was an open and earnest learner with a commitment. She transformed from being a hard driving executive with little patience but lots of knowledge she couldn’t get traction with, to an almost Zen-like leadership presence that employed questions and conversations to stir remarkable insights and actions.
Her division came to have the least turnover and greatest productivity in the entire organization. The subtlety beneath that shift was not lost on the CEO and she was invited to share her wisdom with the senior leadership team. Her fantasy about being able to address the underlying issues that were at the core of the company culture came to be realized and it was now a possibility, not a symbol of resignation.
A gift is not a gift until it is given away. Christine got to give her gift and see it received with open arms, a previously unimaginable possibility.