I’m seeing an increasingly disturbing trend in the workplace and it’s got the warrior in me fired up. Toxic workplaces. Since my partner, Transformation Consultant, Ayako Ohtake, and I started promoting our Clarity and Cohesive Leadership workshops this year we’ve talked to close to 100 people, and I can count on one hand the number of people who are happy at work. Comments range from, “soul sucking”, “toxic”, “frustrating”, “overwhelmed”, “burned out”, “no trust”, “s*** show”. The comment that really got my attention was about largely male executive teams with egos, “They say they want to change, but when it comes down to it, they really don’t. I am truly so fed-up. Everywhere I go it’s the same thing.”
Don’t blame it on the pandemic, which has created its own special workplace hell. If I look back over my 30-year career I can’t say my experience is all that different. Hell, one stint in a job, that will go unnamed, led to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis. Nope, this isn’t new and I’m fed-up, which is why Brave Birds Studio is getting a revamp.
Brave Birds has evolved since I first started it in 2017. I’m still coaching, and I love it, but I’m doing more leadership development and team building and I have seen first-hand that the source of toxicity is the C-Suite and the executives that don’t have the guts to foster healthy, inclusive and engaged workplaces. There. I said it. You want transformational change? You want to improve employee engagement? You want to reduce turnover? You want higher productivity? You want innovation? Then stop with the lip service. Dive in, be vulnerable and get it done! Business takes care of itself, but what I’m talking about will elevate organizations to an entirely new level.
I will always engage my clients with respect, honour, and humility. That approach has served me well, but in reflection, a lot of my success over the years has also come from being bold. I’m not afraid to challenge, agitate and tell the truth. I once told an executive team their plans would fail because of the team’s dysfunction. Furthermore, continuing with our agreement would be a waste of money for them and a waste of time for us. Once they picked their jaws up from the table, we switched focus and they started having some honest discussions about why they became so dysfunctional and what could Brave Birds offer to help them turn the ship around.
We have a proven methodology to build stronger leadership teams used by over 20,000 teams from around the world, but executives need to have the guts to embrace it. The guts to be vulnerable, to check your ego at the door, engage in healthy conflict, commit and be accountable. Well, do you?