Let's say you're head of a division (or section, unit, department, functional area, tribe, clan, regiment, battalion, company, platoon, etc). You're looking for high-functioning alignment—effective, efficient work flow, communications, adaptation, full use of resources. Your people use conflict, confrontation, and disagreement to arrive at better solutions, new ideas and innovations, and opportunities to build trust. They're unselfish and they listen well. Energy in this system is flowing with circularity; it's not polarized, locked, or stuck.
Sounds great. How do you get there? How will you be as a leader, and what will you do to facilitate this vision? In short, you facilitate a transformation. Here's an overview of the process.
At the heart of Face The Music's work is the ability to engage, align, and provide a process in time and space for a group to transform themselves. The initial phase consists of an offsite with the leaders, the DNA of the organization. They get together and get alignment and agreement around vision, mission, goals and values. They engage both intellectually and emotionally. They let down their masks. The music helps with this by giving them a new medium to express themselves in; music is emotionally engaging, and people will say things in their lyrics to a song that will not get past their installed filters sitting in a meeting room with a flip chart.
Many corporate leadership teams are like a group of barons, each with their fiefdom to advocate for and protect. When they become a real team, it is a powerful engine for defining a higher and shared purpose and committing to a positive change that they are jointly going to bring to the rest of the organization, inviting them to engage, contribute, and co-create. Through the work in this phase, they develop an expanded identity as a real team that they can then use in leading the next phase.
"You have to be willing to let your employees engage and bring all of their voice to the table—all the 'goods' and all of the 'bads' must be heard. A leader needs to be open and honest with how the organization is going to run and how they will lead it. The vulnerability on my part was probably the biggest learning that I got out of the process."
– John Parker
We use the power and resonance of music to create an integrated learning experience where the process, structure, and culture of the organization are redefined. The leadership team creates a positive disturbance in the organization that resonates into the work of the second phase.
In my recent article on Cooperative Capitalism I promised more information from CEO Space faculty co-lead Hugh Ballou, who directs that effort together with multi-award winning author and expert on integrity in business Dr. David Gruder. The two coach, train and provide keynote addresses and learning experiences for corporations, both individually and jointly.
Of particular interest to me was seeing the way Ballou's years of background as a music conductor have contributed to the skills he presents to leaders of organizations of all sizes including the world's largest musical efforts, church organizations and even Fortune 1000 CEOs.
Says Ballou: "In 40 years of music ministry I conducted my work with my back to the audience." Now, in his leadership training, he is addressing the challenges corporate leaders face head on.
Ballou defines a leader as one of three things:
1. A person who gets things done.
2. A person who learns how things get done.
3. A person who accomplishes work by influencing others.
The second phase is a large group interactive event involving the next levels of the organization, 200-300 people. This event serves to create a critical mass for the transformation. They learn about the process and the issues being addressed, and create a road map on how they will roll this out. This phase includes music and songwriting, including the leaders delivering some of their songs to inspire and communicate the direction, and the people building their new "album" with their creations.
The groups formed here spread the word and the work about the transformation back in the workplace and continue the work in functional groups. These internal change agents advocate and live the new culture. They have a lot of ownership because they co-created a change and transformation that they wanted to see.
Out of this process large numbers of people can define a new collective identity. They take responsibility for the change and bring their full talents and creativity to manifesting it. Rather than altering their environment, they actually have uncovered and released a shared organizational identity that has existed from the beginning.
"What does storytelling have to do with your business?"
Effective business leaders tell business stories to communicate and connect with various audiences including employees, customers, colleagues, partners, suppliers, and the media. Business stories are different from "regular" stories in an important way. You tell them with an objective, goal, or desired outcome in mind, rather than just for entertainment.
Telling a story well creates a, personal connection (often very strongly) between your audience and your message. Effective stories can change opinions; inspire us to achieve goals that we didn't think were possible; and they can show people how we can change things for the better.
Storytelling may seem an old-fashioned tool, today, which it is. That's exactly why it's so powerful. Life happens in the stories we tell each other. A story can go where detailed analysis can't: into our hearts. Data may persuade people, but it doesn't inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.
Mitchell Goozé (honored speaker at the Commonwealth Club) is the president and founder of Customer Manufacturing Group. His broad scope of business experience ranges from operations management in established firms, to start-up and turn-around situations and mergers. www.customermfg.com
What event, initiative or challenge do you have coming up that Face The Music can add value to?