Content: the stuff we do, the work we take on, how we do it, all the conversations we have and all the things in our lives…
Context: the meaning we make of the above. Quite often organisations, colleagues or employees, indeed customers or our community, however we chose to describe them, they’re all just people. They get drawn into focusing on the Content and get busy doing more stuff, after all it’s so tangible, even addictive and it’s easy to measure…
… we start to lose connection with the CONTEXT.
As we lose connection to the Context, we start to lose connection to the meaning, the Why we do what we do on a daily basis.
Quite often large shifts in groups of people can be achieved less by looking at the Content, although that may be necessary, but more by redefining and reinvigorating the Context, the frame of reference within which people go about their work.
When people have more meaning for what they do each day, this connects with their personal values and they can then choose themselves to do what is the right thing because they are connected to the bigger picture.
This then leads us to the distinction we use about leadership and management. Management is about handling complexity and there is a lot of complexity or content that needs to be managed each day. That is the role of management, a hugely vital role.
Simplicity starts with a Higher Purpose. When people are very clear on their Higher Purpose, the context or the bigger picture, they are more able to work out what is needed and how best to achieve it. This is particularly important in Safety or any organisations where there is remote working and people who work autonomously, who may not be closely supervised. It is extremely important under these conditions that people have the simplicity of leadership, great clarity on their Higher Purpose, the context, because they don’t always have someone to confer with and remind them of their Higher Purpose. They must make decisions themselves to do the right thing on the spot in isolation.
For any organisation to create simplicity through great leadership, is an opportunity to release the next level of performance. We have a choice where to intervene next, do we turn up the volume on the management side, i.e. more tools, systems, processes or do we turn it up on the leadership side? Here’s the important point, the more we lead, the greater the clarity of our Higher Purpose, our cause or belief, the less we have to manage.
This is where WhyNot tends to focus, releasing extraordinary potential and performance through your people within the organisation. Most organisations that have been around for a bit have got management cracked, if they didn’t, they simply wouldn’t exist anymore. The biggest potential we see is in the leadership and context space, getting reconnected at a very human level. Supporting and enabling people to see what it is they do as a full expression of that.
Let me illustrate this by an example. We were asked to train a Police Service’s 600 Supervisors and Sergeants in the Police Code of Ethics. This was a nationally defined program, with valuable content that existed for people initially as just more work to do. With our client, we took a different approach to discover and formulate the Service’s Higher Purpose, by engaging all of the group in this process. This was led by the senior team who then introduced Ethics as a choice everyone could make to better fulfil on their Higher Purpose. This group of people took on owning the Ethics as the Context from which they would do their work, rather than something they had to do. They then set up structures to discuss and learn what this meant for each individual and a sustainable and self-regulating process was established. The Police code of Ethics, for people means becoming who they are and enables everyone to fulfil on their Higher Purpose.
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