There are some commitments we make when we make a call or when we take a stand for something. And when it is something that is meaningful and real, often human centric things have these qualities, there are many other responsibilities that come with this kind of commitment.
To shift any established thing, whether it is a person’s habits, or an organisation’s culture, it always pays to look inside first. To ask the question, what must first change within me, so on the outside of me things can also change?
In an organisational context, as leaders, intending to be customer centric and putting in customer centricity programs and cultural transformation initiatives is not enough. And ineffectual if the leadership is not aware or willing to do the work personally.
“For as long as we choose to remain out of discomfort and not challenge the whole system, we will only be making changes in the fringes.”Melis Senova
There are many traits that require reflection and rethinking from a leadership perspective. Here is a list of the big ones:
Forever Learning. A stance of eagerness to always learn in any situation opens up your mind to new perspectives and insight. It also helps fight the biggest blocker of change and innovation which is ‘experience’. The kind that sounds like, “we’ve always done it like this…”.
Willingness to change your mind and experiment. In business and as leaders, we aren’t often commended on our ability to change our minds. We are often commended on making up our minds and sticking with that decision. In a time of rapidly changing business contexts, internally and externally, when we have new information, or have realised something deeper to be true about the situation we are in, we absolutely need to change our minds. For some of us, in some situations, this is risky and takes courage to do so. Though not doing so is even more risky.
Thinking creatively with ‘and’ relationships. We are used to the culture of trade-off in business, this is an ‘or’ conversation, this or that. In the stance of design, a fundamental prerequisite is the belief in possibility. That somewhere out there, there is a harmonious win-win design that may not be what we expect, but is source of a meaningful outcome for all. This is an ‘and’ conversation – this and that. It is much harder to go there, though the results are absolutely worth it.
Thinking holistically and systemically. We are used to trying to introduce as much certainty as we can in our decision making. One mechanism to do this is to lock down as many variables as we can and isolate the topic we need to make a decision about. This is artificial and we cannot be object-focussed when we make decisions within a systemic connected context, like business. Although Design Thinking is getting a lot of attention these days, it is most powerful when it sits alongside Systems Thinking as well. We need to realise that absolutely everything is connected, a decision we make over here, is undoubtedly going to have an effect over there.
Genuine care for people and their context. It is difficult to deliver on any significant initiative that you are not passionate about or care deeply for. Genuine care for people and their context is the essential ingredient for a real commitment to customer centricity. Without this being felt by those you are leading, any effort to transform becomes shallow and transient, rather than deep and permanent.
Courage & authenticity. Authenticity becomes so important in communication and interaction. Faked empathy is the worst. Faked commitment to do good for people, is embarrassing. Sometimes it takes courage to be authentic, and of course wherever there is an opportunity for you to be courageous, you first need to be vulnerable. This is the most challenging aspect of leading human centric organisations. Though without this, we have another popular topic that people become good at talking about, without the required hard work and courageous action it takes to actually change the operating system of an organisation.
For as long as we choose to remain out of discomfort and not challenge the whole system, we will only be making changes in the fringes.