September 12, 2022

Make it Thrive – a chat with Lizzie Benson

Make it Thrive – a chat with Lizzie Benson

Culture coach and founder of Liberty Mind, Lizzie Benson has a drive to inspire people to create unique company cultures where human potential thrives.

This totally reflects Work Extraordinary’s strong belief that people should be at the heart of everything we do in our organisations. And that leaders – particularly those entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses and now need to get over the next growth hurdle – have the desire and the tools to engage and empower their people to come on the next part of the journey with them.

All about changemakers

Work Extraordinary’s founder Barry McNeill was invited to chat to Lizzie because the theme for this season of podcasts was ‘changemakers’ – people who challenge the status quo, disrupt conventional thinking and encourage others to reach their personal and business goals by doing the same.

It was a great chance to explain Work Extraordinary’s approach to an engaged audience that wants to learn how to do things better.

The podcast started with Barry’s journey to this point – the things that have driven him to look for a different approach to organisation design and leadership growth.

Barry commented that, when he started getting more involved in working with different organisations and looking at how people are leaders, he realised it was important to remember that we're obviously trying to get the best out of those leaders. A lot of the traditional, conventional and practical ways that HR was doing at that time felt like it was working against the outcomes organisations really wanted to achieve.

“If we’re really thinking about enabling people to thrive, process and policy is not what we need. I felt it sucked out the creativity and energy that people can naturally bring to the workplace. And so I knew we needed a different approach, which has brought me into this incredibly exciting and rewarding space,” he said.
At Work Extraordinary, we feel that a large proportion of the global consulting world is still very much reliant on ‘playbooks’ and templates and nothing more. But how much better could it be if we were looking at the ways we can tap into the real talents of the people we’re working with and allow them to lead and design their own innovation?  

Throw away the handbook?

Lizzie Benton is a changemaker herself, so she completely understands that, during a growth phase, businesses tend to stifle their creativity because they suddenly think they have to be grown up and serious. But by embracing the challenge and not limiting yourself to the traditional ways of doing things, you can accelerate your growth, bring people with you and continue to grow a business that brings you joy.

The team at Work Extraordinary knows that requires a real understanding of what it’s like to be a business founder. The organisation is your baby – you have invested everything you have to get it to this stage. You’re passionate about it and completely immersed in the everyday running and managing of it. So it’s hard to take a step back and be bold and perhaps even a bit risky about what comes next.

Lizzie agrees: “There has previously been almost an obsession with standardisation, a hangover from the industrial era about standardising everything. But I always find the same with small startup scaling groups – they are actually a lot more agile. So as a coach, you are trying to make sure they don't default into doing that standardisation, which they think is that the grown-up way to grow their business. Your job is to navigate them away from doing that and go actually that there is another way guys that you can grow and scale without killing everybody and your innovation with processes.”

Be more human

It's risky starting up a business and growing a business. Being an entrepreneur means going out on a limb – on a non-conventional path. Having taken that risk and succeeded to this point, business founders have to be willing to take the next set of risks in order to grow the way they really want to.  

This is part of a cycle – the psychological heuristics or bias around loss aversion. When faced with two different possible outcomes, most people choose to avoid the loss as opposed to take the risk. And that’s often what happens when leaders are asked to consider doing something radical with their people and teams.

For instance, a four-day weekend, or a shift towards self-management or thinking about autonomy brings with it a certain degree of potential risk for a leader who is worried about their social capital by credibility.

At Work Extraordinary, we believe that we need to help leaders learn how to work without ego. So that aspect of loss aversion starts to become less important, because it's not about ‘my ego’ or ‘my reputation as a leader’. It's actually about getting the most out of what you and your people could do together.

To hear the rest of Barry’s chat with Lizzie where they continue to explore this concept – and how it works in practice, just click to listen to the Make it Thrive podcast.

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