Drawing on your courage

Make no mistake, if you wish to win the knowledge game you and your business will need plenty of courage. ˜Why? , you might say. Well, often it requires you to change or address taboos and ingrained injustice, unfairness and poor performance.

Specifically, there needs to be a strong stand to stomp out those behaviours that kill off initiative, innovation and free expression of ideas. This typically requires us to identify and correct behaviours such as the hoarding of knowledge, back-stabbing and bullying , backing it up with comprehensive self-improvement plans. Unfortunately, this is a tough task when many businesses have turned such unsavoury behaviours into an art form. For example, a 2001 study by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, found that 70 per cent of managers and supervisors had bullied their workers and in only 18 per cent of cases was anything done about it. A similar study by Manchester University in the UK found that over 90 per cent of respondents thought that bullies got away with their behaviour.

It was not long ago that I presented the idea of courage at a management conference. After ending my presentation, one of the participants said to me: ˜Alastair, I was really interested in what you had to say about courage. The fact is in my organization, people get beaten up for showing courage. I responded by saying: ˜Yes you are right, but the leaders need to say we are not prepared to allow this any more. If no change occurs the epidemic will continue.

Over the past twenty years I have seen the lack of courage and business leadership raising its ugly head time and time again. Businesses and their managers often struggle to progress because their people feel alienated, undervalued and bullied. Needless to say, they are losing the knowledge game as well as business and their reputation at the same time.

To redress bad behaviours there needs to be a commitment at several levels. It must start with clear evidence that the old way of managing is not only not required but is counterproductive. My experience is that, if people are given the support, permission and training to act differently, they can make the necessary changes. In some of the more difficult cases, people will need a detailed performance improvement plan before real change can be observed . Even then, their ego may stop them from progressing. However, in most situations, if the process of improvement is approached in a positive way, success will result.

Most of all, waiting for things to settle down rarely works. Managers need to support those people who have felt alienated or hurt by past decisions or inaction. Whatever the history, we need to take the lead and plant a new course of action. Whether it is scheduling a face-to-face meeting or going out to lunch , we must undertake a new and fresh approach to communication on a regular basis.

Winning the Knowledge Game. Smarter Learning for Business Excellence
Winning the Knowledge Game. Smarter Learning for Business Excellence
ISBN: 750658096
Year: 2003
Pages: 129

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