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Is the summer break enough to recharge?

In just over a month my summer holiday starts, an exciting prospect. Time to get away from the daily rough ’n tumble. It’s a chance to slow down, reflect, recover, and recharge, allowing me to return a few weeks later with renewed energy and focus. 

Trouble is that for many, the stress of work doesn’t simply disappear during a vacation. A recent Gallup study highlights that 41% of employees globally experience “a lot of stress”. While it’s easy to point to external factors, research shows that organizational leadership plays a significant role in this stress.

It’s clear that yoga mats and mindfulness trainings, while well intended, don’t solve the issue when not accompanied by positive leadership actions. This bridges into the broader question about the role of leadership in driving fundamental change.

Many of us look to current company bosses to spearhead efforts toward sustainability and improved workplace well-being. But are we looking in the right place for these changes? From personal experience, meeting or outperforming (financial performance) expectations, played a big role in getting promoted. With the increase in responsibility, this dynamic involved ever larger teams and as such of course leadership skills come into the equation. Then there were some who additionally excelled in company politics and navigating complex corporate landscapes. These behaviours were conditioned for decades, and this raises the question: can we expect the necessary fundamental change from leaders who have been conditioned in this manner throughout their careers?

Are Current Leadership Dynamics Hindering Transformative Change?

Let’s reflect together on the current leadership dynamics and their impact on transformative change with a sense of compassion and understanding.

Pleasing Over Innovation

Expectation Management: Many of us have risen through the ranks by meeting established expectations. This has often meant maintaining the status quo or incremental change rather than challenging it. Our primary skills might be centred around stability, which is important, but it can sometimes come at the expense of innovation and advocating for bold changes.

Risk Aversion: It’s natural to prioritize stability and seek incremental improvements. However, this risk aversion can limit our ability to embrace transformative actions that might disrupt the current order but could also lead to significant progress and innovation.

Political Manoeuvring

Trust Deficit: Advancing through political gamesmanship can create a trust deficit within our organizations. When employees perceive promotions as driven by politics rather than merit, it can lead to disillusionment and disengagement. This is a challenge we must address with sincerity.

Short-Term Focus: Focusing on short-term wins to secure positions can be tempting, but it often comes at the expense of long-term sustainability and employee well-being. Balancing immediate results with long-term vision is crucial for our collective success.

Conditioned Mindsets

Resistance to Change: Having spent our careers within a certain framework, it’s understandable that we might find it difficult to break free from entrenched mindsets and practices. Envisioning and implementing fundamental changes necessary for sustainability and a positive workplace culture requires conscious effort and openness to new perspectives.

For the more courageous or conscious among us who consistently question whether what we are doing is right, it can be disheartening to face ostracization or become disillusioned. Those who push for meaningful change often find themselves marginalized or opting to leave. This speaks to a deeper issue within our leadership dynamics that we must collectively acknowledge and address.

Let’s think about these issues with empathy and a common goal of creating a space where big changes are not just possible but embraced. Together, we can build a culture that values both stability and fresh ideas, smart politics and hard work, and long-term goals along with quick wins.

We at HeartWork understand the importance for leaders to reconnect with themselves before they can inspire and empower their organizations: that outer work on Sustainable Development Goals must be accompanied with (and preferably preceded by) the inner work for personal growth for a successful transformation. 

We can offer you support with both the inner and the outer work through the HeartWork Inner Knowing Journey, the Purpose Driven Impact Journey and deep experience with complex business transformations.  

Please let us know what you think, we would love to hear from you via sendlove at heartwork dot earth.

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