Future Fit # 11: On becoming an adaptive leader: Story & Culture

TomorrowToday has promised to help you start the journey towards being future fit – to becoming an adaptive leader. Being merely a ‘good leader’ will not suffice when it comes to meeting the challenge of the future. You will need to be a great leader and a ‘great leader’ is someone who understanding and practices adaptive leadership. This is part of a ‘boot camp’ through which we help you begin the journey of becoming future fit; we help you in the process of becoming an adaptive leader. Each ‘session’ is designed around a thought-bullet (Head) and an action point (Hand) – something to think about and something to try out. We have promised to keep the ‘head’ part to under a minute and the practical part (hand)…well, that is up to you.

ladders into the skyFuture Fit # 11: Stories: The gateway to understanding your organisational culture

Adaptive leaders understand that organisational culture is firstly, their responsibility and secondly, paying attention to your culture is of primary importance. The problem is that for too long leaders have focused on other ‘important things’ – those things that directly impact on the bottom line, those things that are easy to measure, manage, predict and control. All of this has come at the neglect of leaders working at building the tools necessary to allow them to understand, engage and intentionally shape the organisational culture. When it comes to the organisational culture people make sense of it through stories. Through our stories we can tell a great deal about what the real organisational culture is – stories illuminate the rituals, folklore, norms, and protocol; they reveal the reality of who we are and how we behave. Stories matter a great deal and adaptive leaders understand the importance of stories in engaging people and leading change. Yet, we don’t find place to share our stories and as a result we lose an important mirror and perspective necessary for leading the organisation. Adaptive leaders deliberately work with the unfolding story of their organisation and they make space and provision for corporate storytelling as a means of rooting the culture they desire and connecting their people to the guiding cause and purpose of why you are in business together.

Schedule a storytelling session for your next team retreat or meeting. This can be as simple as inviting each person to share a story about themselves and how they connected to the business; what they are learning; what they have learnt through their kids; an important experience that has shaped who they are today…There is no limit to the starting place for a story and you will know where that appropriate place is to be found for those in the circle. Start with yourself and your story will set the bar in terms of how personal and transparent the stories that follow will be. It is an exercise that you should work at becoming familiar with and practice often. A safe place to launch storytelling could simply be to invite your team to each share a story that they think describes who it is you (your company) is – imagine a stranger asking, “tell me a story about your company that would help me understand who you are”. Stories are in our DNA…it will be easier that you think and removing story from our corporate world has been a mistake. We have used story a great deal with our clients in TomorrowToday and we would be more than willing to assist you in this important leadership practice.

Index of Adaptive Leader series
Click here to see the full list of the Future Fit ‘sessions’


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