In preparation for a recent organisation away day, I was sent a really inspiring short talk by Frederic Laloux on soulful organisations. In it, he outlines three characteristics of soulful organisations - self-management, wholeness and evolutionary purpose.
The one that immediately struck a chord for me was wholeness. Frederic Laloux talks about how at work often only our rational thoughts are valued, so we are ignoring our intuition, emotional and spiritual intelligence. He argues that we should instead take off our professional masks and "show up in the full glory of our humanity". And it seems that Albert Einstein would have agreed: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift".
The people I work with are interested in learning, developing their self-awareness, and sense of purpose, but the organisations they work for often seem to be lagging behind, stuck in hierarchies that don't get the best from people. That try to control rather than trust people. As Nancy Kline puts it "When a few people do the thinking, most people do not. When most people do not, most perspectives, most fresh ideas, most analyses, most inspiration, most shinings of the light never happen."
So how do we manage when our workplaces espouse values but don't seem to fulfil them with their own employees? Well, many people disassociate and become disengaged, therefore only giving work a fraction of their full potential and talent. Others find they can't stay - they become self-employed or join new organisations that work differently.
Because there is light at the end of the tunnel - organisations that are truly driven by values (not just saying they are because it seems the right thing to say) are becoming increasingly recognised as successful and more productive, with motivated staff. As this Guardian report on the Values Revolution reveals. Maybe your organisation is on the verge of change right now and you can be part of it... or at least find times when you can safely discard your professional mask, and allow others to do the same.
For more information on Frederic Laloux's work, see his book Reinventing Organisations: A guide to creating organisations inspired by the next stage of human consciousness
The Nancy Kline quote is from her inspiring book More Time to Think.
With big thanks to Cindy, who has so generously shared her knowledge and ideas.