Right now many of the leaders of the professional organizations that I work with tell me something is missing. They may be enjoying unprecedented levels of success, but they are burnt out. They have given everything to keep their organization going over the past three years, and they are not sure they have much more left to give. When they look to colleagues for support, it is clear these feelings are widely shared.
Other things are missing too. The cultural glue that used to bind the organization together has been weakened by three years of remote and hybrid working. Senior professionals are focused on clients and their teams, with no time to think about the culture or step up to their broader responsibilities as leaders of the organization.
This loosely coupled culture and depleted leadership contribute to the current sense of dis-ease I have identified within many professional organizations. During advisory consultations with senior professionals, I draw on my research to understand what is missing in their organizations. Using these insights, I help them to reinvigorate their culture and take responsibility for leading collectively.
Rebuilding collective culture
Culture represents the beliefs and behaviours that bind a community together – an expression of how the needs of individuals are reconciled with the needs of the collective. A core responsibility for senior professionals is to help create and sustain a collective culture that enables their whole organization (themselves included) to thrive and find meaning in the new world of professional work.
As my research shows, the pandemic has prompted many professionals to re-evaluate their relationship with their organizations. After three years of remote and hybrid working, what are the beliefs and behaviours that still bind your community together?Read more
While professionals are quick to invoke the concept of collegiality, they may struggle to define it. As my research shows, collegiality is about a lot more than mutual support. It is about equality among peers and cultural cohesion. When all three elements are strong, senior professionals are committed to each other, making it easier to collaborate and lead collectively.
So collegiality is not warm and fuzzy. It is intensely practical and powerful. But it is also fragile. Professionals need to do more than invoke collegiality – they need actively to recommit to it. It is not simply about what unites you and what divides you. The most important question is: what are you prepared to do about it?Read more
Recognising the leadership ecosystem
Professionals are often reluctant to present themselves as leaders. They do not understand the leadership ecosystem within their organization and the role they play within it.
As my research shows, professionals’ leadership identities are subtle and fluid. Multiple leadership identities can coexist in the same organization. Some direct energy inwards and some direct energy outwards. But all are integral to the effective functioning of the collective leadership ecosystem. What is your core leadership identity?Read more