What Can Egypt Teach Us About Our Own Organizations?

The newspapers were filled this winter with “How Cairo, U.S. Were Blindsided by Revolution”.  Doesn’t that just floor you?  Can any government really be surprised that a revolution is imminent?

I don’t want to stretch the limits of comparison, but as a leader in your organization, do you really understand the sentiments of your workforce, the staff on your team, the folks meeting with the clients or building the products?  Is there an honest alignment of your strategy and your workforce? I hope so!

We’ve always known that honesty is the hallmark of effective leadership. One of my favorite workshop exercises is to ask folks to rate how their company stacks up to the market and to their competition.  We call the graphic representation of this ranking a contour map. There are often disconnects between how leaders and staff see these rankings.  For example, what if management gave itself a 5 in marketing and now it realizes that staff members suggested they had no defined brand at all? Obviously, there’s a bit of a disconnect. Initially, company leaders want to look good as they go through the self-examination process, and they especially want to look good to outsiders like myself. But given enough time and enough opportunity for realistic thought, people become increasingly honest. Maybe marketing didn’t really deserve a 5, people will begin to admit at this phase of the process. It really just deserves a 2 or a 3. Misalignment indicates that the team might not have been entirely honest early on, unwilling to face the brutal facts of where the company is in the marketplace.

Honesty is the key.  An honest and aligned assessment on where leadership and staff feel the company is leads to an aligned strategy, implemented by engaged employees.

Dishonesty may not lead to an Egyptian-like revolution, but it will certainly limit your success.

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