Our TABLE Has Five Legs

We’re living in exceptional times. Our world was already changing at a pace that was difficult to maintain, but since the onset of Covid19, traditional thinking and working has been uprooted and deposited as a new challenge. But this also presents us with an opportunity: an opportunity to test our resolve, our systems and processes. It is also a chance to discard convention that is inconsistent with the future direction of society’s travel and calibrate organisational culture with purpose.

Our new destination is to make companies more agile, reactive to societal changes, with a beacon of leadership that proposes a more inclusive future for all stakeholders.

I’m talking about evolving our organisations into TABLE organisations, reshaping relationships with customers, staff and other stakeholders.

A TABLE is one that exhibits the following characteristics: T – THINKING with reflection A – ACTING with purpose B – BEHAVING inclusively L – LOOKING diverse E – EXPRESSING EMOTION

T=Thinking With Reflection

A TABLE organisation is one that allows time for thinking and reflection. It has a culture that welcomes a coaching-style approach to leadership and encourages everyone involved to take individual responsibility for their actions. At the same time, it is led with the benefit of experience and reflection, as well as an appetite for thinking and learning. The Black Lives Matter movement, for instance, has given us an excellent opportunity to pause, reflect and institute impactful changes that address the persisting challenges around racism.

A=Acting with Purpose

In the words of Simon Sinek, a TABLE organisation starts with “why”. The “why” is the purpose.

A purpose that is specific to the particular organisation can act as a litmus test for all organisational activity, constantly asking the question: is this consistent with our purpose or are we straying away from it?

During lockdown, the overriding purpose of most companies has been to ensure both staff and customers are coping well, are connected to each other and are safe. With such a narrow focus and purpose, many leaders were surprised at how quickly they could set up channels of communication, how much empathy colleagues and bosses displayed, how dedicated and motivated everyone was and, in the end, how well everyone coped.

An organisation that unites behind a clear and stated purpose is better equipped to motivate and pull in the same direction. And that became crystal clear during the lockdown.

B=Behaving Inclusively

Most of us think of ourselves as being inclusive. And for the most part we are, so long as it doesn’t require much effort.  We encourage and support, we extend rules and policies and we welcome a few token individuals that make our circle more diverse.

But rarely are these efforts enough.

When I talk about “behaving inclusively”, I mean going the extra mile to understand what we don’t know or see and then another mile to develop new habits that allow us to better understand and cater to people from vastly different backgrounds.

L= Looking Diverse

Diversity is the reward for inclusion. An inclusive culture is able to attract, retain and promote a diverse population.

Diversity increases the level of creativity and innovation, begets new ideas and offers previously unnoticed experiences and opinions. It is the gateway to a more complete set of data.

The more diverse and inclusive an organisation, the more information it has to utilise for the fulfilment of its purpose. Lack of diversity at the top therefore, limits what we can achieve.

E= Expressing Emotion

An organisation that is in touch with its feelings, that is unafraid of expressing decisions and motivations in terms of emotions will be better equipped to attract the talent of tomorrow. Emotional and psychological safety is a large part of today’s and tomorrow’s well-oiled, well-functioning organisation. Creating and demonstrating safe space conversations that allow colleagues to express how they feel are valuable tools for leaders who want to attract bright talent. An organisation that speaks from the heart and the mind will be better equipped to deliver on its purpose for more of its stakeholders.

Does your organisation have 5 legs?

To find out which of the 5 legs of your TABLE organisation are more stable and which require more support, get in touch with me.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world… Let’s Steer a Course Towards Accelerating Gender Parity

You’ve seen these figures before: 100 years to close the overall gender gap, 257 to close the economic gender gap. It’s beyond our lifetime and too long to wait. What can be done to accelerate the closing of these gaps – or rather, chasms – by us, our companies and our governments?

Many countries, including the UK, are well placed to reap the benefits of their investment in female education and harness the gender balance opportunities made possible by the changing nature of work. So far, they – and we – have failed to do so.

But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can do things differently! We can work from home without disrupting the flow of business, we can reverse the signs of environmental damage to our planet, we can slow down, look up and ‘smell the roses’ once in a while. And, yes, we can accelerate the closing of these unspeakable gaps.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has already launched a programme with a number of countries to do just that. Suitably named the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator, the programme is designed to pull together global and national public and private action that narrows these gaps. To date, the WEF has managed to secure commitment from nine governments around the world to join the Accelerator programme (its goal is 15 by the end of this year). Only one of the nine is a G20 country – and it is not the UK.

My point is that the tools and solutions to help accelerate the closing of these gaps are available to us, but for some reason, we are not taking the necessary steps to implement them – either on a national or more local front.

One of my worries is that the lessons we have and are continuing to learn from the pandemic will not be captured by our society. I worry that we will all return to work and life in the same way we did before Covid-19. This would be a lost opportunity; to reset our values, our priorities and our trajectories and to look at our lives from a different perspective and to realise that they could be different.

In April, I wrote about the fact that the new way in which we have started to interact with each other as a result of having to work and live from/at home has made us more empathetic, more accepting and more kind. We have reverted to what it means to be human and have injected that humanity into our work. We have become more tolerant of the daily disruptions in our work from children and pets; our “offices” show glimpses of who we are as people; we’re reconnecting with nature and with ourselves – our emotions and philosophies – as much as with distant friends and family. In other words, we’re bringing more of ourselves to work and are accepting of who that is, of us as well as our colleagues. Our managers are learning to lead with humour and be more comfortable with being less serious all the time. We care about the emotional and physical state of our colleagues and bend over backwards to help them cope.

I classify all this as inclusive behaviours. And, while we may feel that it’s not within our powers (query as to whether this is true) to persuade our CEOs and MPs to join the WEF’s commitment to accelerate the closing of gender parity gaps, what we most certainly can do is preserve how we interact with and treat each other when we go back to our desks in the office, and continue to nurture those inclusive behaviours that we have started to develop.

Inclusion leads to greater appreciation of diversity which makes programmes like the WEF’s Closing the Gender Parity Accelerators feasible and impactful.

 

Learn more about the WEF Accelerator programme and how your company can get involved.

Watch a short WEF video on the gender parity gap.