Preventing calcification of the company structure
Calcification is the accumulation of calcium salts in body tissue. It normally occurs in the formation of bone and teeth (about 99% of all calcium in the body), but calcium can be deposited abnormally in soft tissue — in arteries, cartilage or heart valves. For example, calcification can occur within the facet joints of the spine — the spine is comprised of stacked vertebrae, each containing a disc and two facet joints, connected by ligaments and muscles. Healthy facet joints have cartilage, allowing smooth and painless movement. When there is a mechanical overload or dysfunction of the joint, however, the cartilage starts wearing away, causing abnormal motion. The body responds by attempting to stiffen the facet joints, building up calcium deposits along the edges of the bone joint. These calcium deposits are called bone spurs and they cause the facet joints to become enlarged. When bone spurs occur, they encroach on the space where the nerves travel. This ultimately leads to nerve compression and extreme lumber pain.
Companies and other organisation types typically create structures, systems and processes to serve the ends of mission, vision, goals, targets and potential profit or success. These structures are put in place to assist the organisation in running like a well-oiled machine — effectively and efficiently. They also serve to build reputation (like reliability), customer trust, brand value and certainty. When these structures, systems and processes become too rigid or are used manipulatively, however, the subsequent bureaucracy and politicised environment stifles growth and impedes service delivery promises. “Bureaucratic pain” hinders agility and renders responsiveness to changes in clients’ needs ineffectual. Systemic “bone spurs” stand in the way of success and offer the competition opportunity to start capturing market share. Calcification has won — speed, quality, agility, mobility, accessibility, responsiveness and understanding the market and its needs have all been negatively impacted.
Preventing calcification of the company structure requires a 21 stCentury approach to leadership — an empowering philosophy which treats employees like partners in the business. Inter alia, this requires changing to:
- Dispersed leadership — getting decision-making down to the lowest possible levels within the organisation, obviously with defined accountabilities in place. This not only frees executives to focus on the important, but also empowers employees and gives them a sense of business ownership.
- Leadership presence — leadership accessibility, both physically and emotionally, brings realness into relationships, offers hope and engenders feelings of security and stability.
- Enabling teams to make process choices — giving teams the possibility of making their own decisions regarding systems and processes that affect their performance and success. Telling teams what to do and how to do it is disempowering.
- Employee engagement — listening well and connecting with employees emotionally. Great employees have great ideas, but these need to be heard. Professional distance and relational warmth are not mutually exclusive or on opposite ends of the scale, but should work together to build an inclusive culture.
- Fairness — treating all with dignity and respect. This means being firm on performance expectations, but also being compassionate of the human condition.
- Being change-inclined — being open to the need for swift change as market conditions dictate and welcoming new technical and digital approaches to achieving one’s goals. Have an eye on the future’s “big picture”, knowing that this, too, will change.
- Communication excellence — connect everyone constantly to the organisation’s vision, mission, values, strategic map and goals and recognise wins (however big or small) consistently.
Preventing calcification of the company structure is critical if those in leadership want to avoid disruption and capitalise on inherent strengths within the business. An authentic engaging approach releases energy within systems and processes and empowers employees and teams to make their best contributions.
Originally published at https://www.stretchforgrowth.com on November 24, 2019.