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Friday, March 5, 2010

The Three Laws of Performance: The Self-Led Organization

LAST POST concerning The Three Laws of Performance (Zaffron and Logan), which I highly recommend all leaders read.

The Self-Led Organization: If you look at the history of the "organization," it has a legal origin dating back to the 1800's. The organization/company was originally formed as a legal entity to get things done (build highways, etc.) and sesequently, to act as an enduring entity, with purpose and a future. Today, organizations are complex places consisting of people, diverse groups, and a number of key stakeholders—all having “conversations” often inconsistent and dissonant. You’ll often hear conversations starting like the following:

--Why is _____ doing this to me?
--Who does she think she is?
--I can’t believe “they” are doing this!
--This makes no sense to me!

On the other hand, if an organization/company could somehow (using the three laws of performance) harmonize these discordant conversations into resonant ones with integrity, purpose, and authentic social responsibility, such an organization would become what the authors call Self-Led: “…[the organization] needs to create a compelling future for its stakeholders and align its network for conversations to fulfill that future. In the process, the organization’s (whole) Self emerges….”

Finally, you do NOT have to be a CEO or a designated leader to lead an organization. Many people have changed history by simply stepping up and saying they saw a different future than that of the “default future.” Here are a few examples of people who, while now famous, back when they took their first steps toward changing the conversation and changing their country’s default future, were little known: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Mandela, Walesa, Ghandi, and a string of others.

The REASON they’re now famous is precisely because they decided to change the conversation.

Consider Christine Hansen—not a name you would know, unless you were in the FBI (one of my former alma maters). A number of years ago, Christine sued the FBI regarding discriminatory practices against women involving hiring, training, and practices "in the field." It was a difficult time for her, and she eventually resigned. Today, because she changed "the conversation" in the FBI, the number of women in new agent classes is far different than ever before, AND women now occupy serious leadership positions within the hierarchy, such as being Special Agents in Charge of major field offices around the US. Consider how much the FBI could have saved in time, energy, and money, had all stakeholders at the time been willing to have a frank, honest conversation—cleared the decks and articulated a new future.

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