The traditional way most people look at a "job" is that an organization needs something done and an individual decides to "sell" their services to the organization in exchange for money. In this scenario, the power resides clearly with the employer, and the motivation for many employees is security that is provided by an entity completely out of their power.
This all-too-typical equation is a recipe for disaster. Power imbalances, misaligned motivations and fear are not fertile ground for success. However, the greater the alignment between organizations and the individuals that comprise them, the greater the benefits for everyone--including the customers and clients they serve.
Both sides of this equation have the ability to lead from a position of power and service that will create places of work that are truly aligned among employee, organization and the people it serves. Living leadership is a practice that must be cultivated as part of a healthy life and high-functioning organization. Here are simple steps to create leadership change across both:
• Be clear about who you are and what you want: The greatest cause of conflict within organizations is that one, or often both sides, of the equation are unclear about what they want, resulting in people in roles they are not well-suited for or don't like. Then everyone is stuck "working around" people, which only sends ripples of discontent through work teams and beyond. Without clearly understanding who you are and what you want, all else becomes muddled. As an employer, know what you are looking for in a role and which talents, skills and strengths will fit your needs. This is equally crucial for employees.
• Focus on the three leadership C's: Leadership is being your best and showing up and offering it each day. Communication, conscious choice and conflict resolution are tools for growth. By focusing on growing these three qualities in all employees, individual efficacy skyrockets and the organization flourishes. People often make leadership seem difficult and a far off summit especially for younger employees. Everyone can and should be leading!
• Be clear about what people are being asked to do and ask the right people to do it: The greatest barrier to individual success in organizations is when employees feel unclear about the goal, their role and their reach. When organizations are clear about defining what needs to be done, why and by whom, and then align employees' leadership skills with the various elements of the work, the work flows better. However, too few people practice the three C's of leadership, resulting in a lack of clarity among even those in positions of authority, who pass their cloudy understandings on down the line. One person asking for clarity creates ripples throughout an organization--when many come together with this intention, the shift can be dramatic and swift.
Both organization and employees want high functioning, productive, stimulating work environments that allow the development of products and services that best meet the needs of customers and clients. Too often, fear about what needs to be done, the money involved and beliefs about the inability to have what one wants get in the way of openly coming together to achieve goals individually and collectively. By consciously engaging in cultivating leadership, these issues are addressed, individuals function at their best and organizations can move to new levels of success. This is a win-win scenario that makes the choice to lead the obvious one.