Discover how to overcome entrenched dependent cultures.
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In this article:
The Performance Curve
Early in my career I joined a huge global organization in the oil and gas sector. Its culture was very much in the Dependent zone as illustrated by The Performance Curve.
When our MD Tiffany Gaskell polled the audience at the recent Corporate L&D Summit in Barcelona, she found that most of the delegates also identified their organizational culture as Dependent. I found this curious, not least because my personal experience was about a decade ago. It doesn’t seem much has changed.
The stickiness of Dependent cultures can be attributed to a number of factors. For me, the most prevalent, and arguably the most deeply ingrained in our society, is how we are educated. The excellent Ken Robinson Ted Talk ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ points out that a theme of the school system is that it conditions children to be compliant and to avoid taking risks.
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In schools, compliance is rewarded with smiles and stars, non-compliance is punished with frowns and detention, innovation is not encouraged because it’s not in the curriculum. This is the reality for us (in the UK at least), from the ages of 4 to 16 – the most impressionable time of our lives. The respect for rule and order is important for a functioning society but it’s also creating a world where businesses are built on the same paradigms.
The upshot is that people in Dependent cultures are often waiting to be told what to do, managers see their role as command and control, and corporate politics abounds. Of course, it’s a complex issue but our experience is that mindsets such as these, stifle engagement, innovation and ultimately dampen an organization’s potential.
If you’re reading this you are on our website, so you’re probably aware that coaching might have a part to play in tackling this trickiest of challenges. Shifting an organization along The Performance Curve requires a systemic change, leaders that are able to lead a transformation and walk-the-talk. It’s also not just about a single enlightened leader asking good questions, empowering and developing their team, it needs to happen all at once, in one big push.
My point is really, a simple one. If you’re looking to change your organization’s culture, don’t go in softly. Think broader than a single Level 1 coaching programme for your executive team, consider how the feeling and the environment will change to foster the mindsets and behaviours of Interdependence.
If you would like to talk about how your organization could move up the curve, please get in touch.
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