Work Extraordinary’s founder Barry McNeill was recently a guest on Mary Gregory’s Facebook live interview, Lessons in Leadership. It is a great platform to showcase the work we do and how it helps entrepreneurial leaders to have the confidence and the tools to take their creativity into their next growth spurt. That’s in addition to engaging their people to build extraordinary organisations.
Mary began by asking Barry why he had called the business ‘Work Extraordinary’ and it’s a great question. Barry believes the best organisations are ones where people can thrive, engage and bring their whole selves, with all their creativity, to work every day.
We see a lot of data about disengagement – people who find their work and their jobs joyless, miserable, and very transactional. At Work Extraordinary, we really want people to be able to feel great about going to work. By tapping into the passion people have and bringing their energy to life, we can create happier people, better work environments and more productive organisations.
Of course, that must come from the culture and leadership of the organisation, so the work we do is about helping leaders design and create genuinely extraordinary organisations where people can bring all that passion and energy to really focus on doing their best possible work.
Mary and Barry are on the same page about this. A lot is said about vision and leadership, and this is crucial. But perhaps as important and less talked about are other qualities. Great leadership is very much about being able to be authentic and vulnerable. Leaders – even those who consider themselves to be modern, entrepreneurial leaders – need to let go of all those acts of ego, marks of status and symbols of leadership and make sure they are always role modelling authenticity to the people they work with.
At Work Extraordinary, we ask the leaders we work with whether they want an organisation where people just do as they are told, or an organisation where people are thinking for themselves? And of course, most people will choose the latter. But the vast majority of organisations are set up in what we would say is largely a command and control, kind of industrial age operation.
Mary agrees and comments on the podcast: “Leaders often say they want people to be independent, but what they are doing is encouraging dependency. So how do you think we tackle that blind spot?”
Again, it’s another great question. There is no blueprint to doing that, because every organisation and every context is different. We have to start by playing around with the dynamics of why the organisation is set up in the way it is. Some of that comes down to leadership style. The way that lots of leaders develop in a traditional corporate environment is this: they rise to a management role but without any development – so they copy what they see, which is often a controlling management style.
We often find ourselves talking to leaders about their need for controls or oversight and suggest that it means the trust balance is just not right. And all of that is very ego driven – and often comes from a fear of failure. This often comes from a place of learned behaviour, rather than any particular individual failings. So one of the most important changes we can help leaders with is to be self-aware – to stop and think about the approach they are taking and whether it’s the best way.
Encouraging challenge and disruption – and bringing your people along with that – really can create a fast-growing, agile, and successful organisation. On the podcast, we discussed that a lot of the work we do is about helping leaders and teams find their ‘why’ – their connection and purpose. And that helps us to create an environment, culture and climate where people feel safe – where being passionate and engaged and unafraid to challenge is the norm. We actively encourage diverse opinion and disruptive thinking from everyone in an organisation as part of our process. As well as being empowering, creativity and productivity usually soar when everyone feels their shackles are gone.
At Work Extraordinary, we think we are at a fascinating time where businesses and leaders can consider the kind of organisation they want to be, and the type of future they want to create. The best leaders are prepared to be daring – to push themselves to imagine how the world could look and are prepared to take risks and explore non-standard options. Getting leaders of all types to that position is what brings us joy in our work.
If this resonates with you and you’d like to discuss how we can help, contact us.
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