The capacity of an organization to transform itself reflects its ability to work together as a team. As Margaret Wheatley reminds us, "It is time to become passionate about what is best in us, and to create organizations that welcome our creativity, contribution, and compassion. We do this by using processes that bring us together to talk to one another, listen to one another's stories, reflect together on what we're learning as we do our work. We do this by developing relationships of trust, where we do what we say, where we speak truthfully, where we refuse to act from petty self interest."
From this perspective, leaders recognize that relationships are the foundation for action during times of prolonged uncertainty and instability. They are the glue that bonds people together through the trough of chaos.
One day I walked into a company, and as I waited in the reception area for the person who was to meet me, I couldn't help but be drawn to a gorgeous arrangement of roses. Then I noticed a small card attached to the vase: "Thanks for being such a great staff. I appreciate how you rose to the challenges these past two weeks.” It was signed by their supervisor -- a small touch, but artfully done, and a reminder that developing a team is an ongoing process.
When you have been through a tough period, part of the pathway to being able to come together is to recognize the importance of forgiveness. As Joan Borysenko wrote, "The psychological case for forgiveness is overwhelmingly persuasive. Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another's control. . . . Those who do not forgive are those who are least capable of changing the circumstances of their lives. In this sense, forgiveness is a shrewd and practical strategy for a person . . . . to pursue ‚ for forgiveness frees the forgiver."
Leaders make difficult decisions every day. Followers work within tough parameters and make difficult decisions and choices, too. The difficulty is that, when key relationships are strained, leaders and followers have the potential to lose mutual respect and understanding. Successful change involves dialogue and a constant flow between learning and practice. To cultivate clarity, forethought, and focus, leaders and followers need to build the capacity to work together well -- before it is crucial.
Remember: In times of prolonged uncertainty, healthy team relationships make all the difference.
Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257