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Foundations of Strategy and Leadership

  • 07 Pages
  • Published On: 22-11-2023

Foundations of Strategy and Leadership (BEMM111DA)

Despite, a 20% drop in profitability, the Healthcare organisation that I work for has navigated through the early part of the Covid19 crisis, the CEO made the decision not to furlough staff, and to offer full sick pay to any colleague suffering or having to isolate due to Covid19. The decision is a brave one, with a backdrop of further uncertainty, the CEOs stance on social value and the work that we do as a healthcare provider was central to the message. (c1) The problem is that the rationale wasn’t shared widely, only those who were privy to senior level communication were able to understand. Communication in general from the executive team through this crisis period has been irregular. Although compliance related Health & Safety information has been shared regularly, there has been little to no communication around the shared goals and vision. (C3) In retrospect through the work of scholars Johnsons and Scholars I considered this an appropriate time to communicate the act, as it was one that had great potential to be a powerful reminder. It would have served as a reminder, connecting us to our purpose, our mission, and ‘merging with a strong sense of team’ with a renewed passion towards our goal. Instead a simple but carefully considered tailored letter was emailed out via the company secretary thanking everybody for their hard work. The following month another gesture, a pack of disposable masks was posted to every member of the team, encouraging staff and families to stay safe. The gesture was unexpected and thoughtful, but again the note hinted of ‘self-actualisation,’ the inference being a reminder to follow rules. By understanding culture and change theory, albeit at surface level that to although words can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and so my interpretation could be viewed differently by another colleague the opportunity to ‘facilitate emergence’ was missed. I understand that, “unless the paradigm at the heart of culture is not changed there will be no lasting change.” (Cultural Analysis Techniques, Tools to analyse your organisation’s culture). The significance of the issues is related to the fact that the care home must require internal communication and cooperation for developing partnership working, but there is lack of communication which deteriorates the quality of care. Whatsapp The theory of Dodd and Favaro coincides with the business managing tensions, regardless of the Covid related drop in profitability of the institution and an uncertain future, the Leadership team have pushed forward with growth plans. An acquisition in line with the growth strategy was announced amidst the Covid disaster, increasing our market size, our customer offer, and our expertise, the move was strong, though I can’t help but think it was another missed opportunity to communicate and remind the team that we are a resilient business, which in part could be attributed to the sector being one that has been less impacted by the crisis. In its place another note was issued via email by the secretary on behalf of the CEO we were informed of the acquisition. The Leadership team is managing its tensions, with commitment to push ahead with major investment into technological advances, planned pre-covid, supporting better outcomes for our customers and efficiency for teams, albeit at a slower pace than initially planned. Our services and support were offered to our Healthcare Commissioners, and indeed in some areas we showed great agility, diversifying our offer new services, such as supplying PPE for frontline NHS staff. I feel that the care home is able to serve the patients with quality treatment and standard care and it is mandatory to mitigate the issue of non-cooperation and poor communication for further improvement. The investment both in acquisitions and in technology advancements despite the economic downturn evidence that the business is prioritising faster revenue growth for the future, and innovation that sets us ahead of our competitors. As Dodd and Favaro emphasise the competing objectives of the three pillars that the businesses must fulfil, "profitability versus growth, the short-term versus the long term, and the whole organisation versus the units", highlighting the juxtaposition that, the business face (Managing the right tensions, Dodd & Favaro). The challenge presented in this paper looks more specifically at third tension, related to the organisational model. Herein lies the problem, the business is so focused on competing, innovating and achieving growth, with its teams pushed to focus on short-term goals, its structure, culture and people haven’t developed anywhere close to the same pace as the business. This leaves the business vulnerable; in order to flourish the business needs to invest in its people capability. As the Head of learning, I’ve been in the business for a year; a substantial part of my role depends on staff engagement and working closely with colleagues across function to support a learning and growth Culture. The idea of learning within the business however is traditional, there has been little to no investment in L&D, with my predecessor focused on compliance and technical training, for one part of the business. The learning strategy I have developed is ambitious; it includes a number of initiatives that support capability building in line with the business strategy. In the absence of any big data, I’ve observed that we have not only a diverse skill set but also mindset between staff who have been in the business for 15plus years, staff contributing into the business, as well as colleagues acquired through acquisition, all who come with their own values and ways of operating. The real challenge I face is a lack of any foundations or culture to support a learning culture. I face pockets of resistance and distrust from colleagues, perhaps I am viewed as another element of change to the way things are done. There is a distinct contrast of mindsets in the business, with some exceptions, those with a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. Zooming in closely, my initial reasoning led to me to think that the lack of strategic thinking and a resistance to collaborate amongst managers must be partially due a fixed ‘but, so’ attitude. However, through my learning and deliberating on the symptoms, I consider this a more complex challenge than previously thought. It is mandatory to identify its effects on the organisation and develop further tactics to handle the problems so that it would be possible for me to fulfil my job role in the workplace. Moreover, colleagues have been left to experience the ripple of change, to work out the why and ‘how’ for themselves. Intergroup hostility and silos mentality between staff old, new, and acquired has stemmed from a lack of drive to integrate teams. Whilst the business has been going through rapid change, business-wide colleagues are only informed of change on a need to know basis, and often only once it has occurred, jobs are often filled without being internally advertised, and colleagues appear to be ‘compromised out’ out the business though the back door. The symptoms related to communication may point out the issues with the organisational structure and internal culture. This has left me to consider McClelland’s motivational theory and how the lack of control over the three needs, achievement, belonging, and control has led to a crisis. It would simplistic to blame the negative attitudes on individuals and teams when the business has done little to motivate and integrate the team, or to build a sense of belonging. The grief cycle through a crisis leaves colleagues wrestling with a scale of feelings from denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, readjustments, and gaining confidence. This adds a layer to the complex behaviours and hostility of some colleagues and reminds me that human behaviour is complex and can’t be judged at surface level, it’s indicative of several issues including a lack of management training for ‘accidental managers’ over the years. The changing landscape hasn’t just resulted in growth and profitability for the business; it has led to a toxic mix. When managing a group of people I consciously take the time to understand my team member’s individual motivational drivers, as a leader it’s a valuable tool which further allows me to appropriately lead, assign stretch tasks, and facilitate growth which is personal to individuals. In my role I can facilitate several learning opportunities to the wider team within the business and understand that whilst some colleagues are passionate about development through learning opportunities, for others this doesn’t motivate them at all. In understanding individual motivators and the mix within my teams and the characteristics for each, I am able to consider a mix of reward and satisfaction personal to my teams, I find that this level of interest in individuals helps not only to support their needs and aspirations but also supports retention. The reflective assessment is hereby beneficial for me to review my own task and job role and achieve the ultimate objective by contributing efficiently. I need to access the information about knowledge of other team members, opinion of the colleagues and the contributing factors that help to maximise the productivity and performance of the team members. Schein identifies culture as “the way we do things round here.” In completing the cultural analysis tool focused on corporate culture I was able to understand that our structural deficiencies, include a lack of clarity on expectation linked to the business strategy, closed communication and a lack of transparency has created internal tension. Through our patterns, it is evident that as business we are currently bureaucratic passive- defensive culture, in the main this shows in how we are approval orientated, punish mistakes but ignores success, I had my aha moment! The organisation has been so tightly controlled, with little sharing or reward and public acknowledgement for good work, contrasted by a culture of weekly calls and micromanagement for those on the ‘naughty step’ a term widely acknowledged for non-performance. Zooming in, it’s clear that we are failing to effectively manage these three tensions effectively; the business is struggling to develop synergy, the diagonal assets as ‘a common bond between the whole and parts’ has taken a back seat, at the ultimate expense of the company culture. It’s also quite possible that the business hasn’t zoomed in on the third tension, or it’s possible it doesn’t have the know-how to deal with cultural complexities. It is through the strategic leadership frame of reference and understanding ethical leadership where I realise that’s it’s not enough to use lack of know-how to drive a positive culture. To Emphasise Keillor’s point “if people don’t know you, why should they trust you and follow you” It is through my own action as a leader that I can set an example and work towards improving the internal conditions which are symptomatic of a poor culture. I question whether authoritarian control and command style of leadership is appropriate in building a brand that enables its teams to go the extra mile in caring for its service users, indeed if we are not able to put our people first, how can we put the needs of our service users first. Our workforce demographics are sure to change moving forwards. Whilst currently we have an aging and traditional workforce whose attitudes have been accepting of authority, with a learning style preference, which is more classroom based, and one to one, and don’t necessarily care so much for one to one meetings and feedback. Through leadership strategic planning it is hereby develop suitable organisational culture and promote friendly atmosphere where the colleagues can work collaboratively. We also have to consider that as we work to target new talent, particularly those from Generation X, and Y, the generational differences and expectations are vastly different. Gen. X, and Y expect to interact with authority figure, they do want a voice and to be heard, they expect communication and feedback to be both in the flow and continuous, with a preference for a blend of learning skills, including coaching at workplace. Connecting with hearts and mind is becoming ever more important, and during the changing landscape, we must not forget that the labour market is also changing, and that to attract future talent we must consider more democratic and ethical leadership styles. Hereby, the issue of lack of organisational culture and poor communication can be mitigated though continuous improvement and creating good workplace culture with learning and development, motivational activities and cooperation. If the business wants to truly a positive culture in line with its growth plans, it’s time to bring all team members on the journey, to tackle the team’s undiscussables (Ginka Toegel, Jean-Louis Barsoux) In order to boost team dynamics and address dysfunctional dynamics it’s important to bring previous undiscussable to the surface, starting with oneself. Change starts with one, and so as a leader I will have the moral courage to go against the grain and stand up for behaviour and communication congruent towards our unifying goal (MitSloan). I found the interview with Zappos brand vision and culture director, Foley comments that companies who lack concrete values ‘waver under pressure or struggle to make good decisions aligned with their brand or values’ apt. Our company’s core values have been under review and in the process of redevelopment over the period of a year; they have just been launched with an announcement and our new core values appearing on lanyards, with no approach on how we can work to embed this into our learning, processes or practice. If values don’t go beyond words on a lanyard or a list of words on a plaque, they do not embed into our processes, the culture or to shape the way we do things, of course this does nothing to move towards a more positive culture. (Zappos) Developing an ethical culture and nurturing our teams to do what’s right requires conscious effort. Through new lenses I have learned some key lessons. Although I have achieved the 12-month goals that I set out to when I joined the business, I have neglected some important areas. In order for me to truly thrive in my role I need to support the business to focus on only short-term outcomes but also to collaborate. What particularly resonate with me now is that in my capacity as Head of Learning able to initiate and lead change in the organisation I have the power to initiate and lead change in many ways, first by revitalising the foundation message of a common goal, which seems to be lost, perhaps partly through lack of engagement and communication. By unlocking the forgotten values and shared goals that unites us, we can build impactful foundations and focus on a breakthrough that provides perspective to all colleagues. Deterline in her TedTalk on Creating Ethical Culture defines how value creation highlights how ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space and our work is about using that space to get us to reconnect to our values, to our hearts, to our natural wisdom, to act courageously.” Thus, value creation is what an organisation does whereas the ethical leadership leads us how to do it. During this critical period of change, we must do more to connect our people to our values. I will not only lead with ethical leadership behaviours but will also commit to reviewing our existing and future learning opportunities to embed the values across the board as every opportunity. In developing the Leadership Learning pathways not only will our core values be embedded but how every manager and team leader can play a part in uniting staff through our values and leading through role modelling will be key. Key to the programmes will be work-based improvement projects, where I can support my managers not only to show ROI to learning, but also support a growth mindset. Developing ethical leadership, reflective practice, supporting an inquiring mind, training coaching skills, and supporting managers to engage and motivate will be central (Deterline, TedTalk). Through the reflective assessment it is possible to share own experience and workplace culture in order t review own skill set and capabilities for contributing in the workplace. I tried hard to cooperate with others and develop ethical partnership. As per the theory of leadership, ethical leadership with personal and professional learning and growth through training program as well as motivational factors are effective to develop good team work and enhance the performance of the organization as a whole. While working in the current climate and culture can often be stressful, I learned to be resilient and stay focused on my strategy not only for me but for my team at the workplace. Change starts with a vision, and the biggest impact that I can make to support a learning culture is to lead by example. I’ve realised in zooming in to closely, I had got stuck in a perspective whilst absorbing the culture of the business and the various challenges, and I had become overwhelmed. I needed to remind myself that with over 15 years of experience facilitating positive change for various sectors, that I could not let the toxicity influence my personal behaviour. I had failed to zoom effectively in both directions! I was ‘getting stuck! This became a good moment that allowed me to zoom out appropriately and find perspective. As the lead in the business for learning I am been entrusted with leading change in line with the business plan through the learning strategy. We are operating in VUCA times, as a strategic leader, I must work to bring the clarity to define the end state, empowering teams to travel the journey towards the end state. Rather than get frustrated I am now able to consider the challenge and approach the challenge with incremental solutions, operational plan, milestones (VUCA). In many ways this means I am well placed to give and receive honest feedback at all levels. After all, as John F. Kennedy stated, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” (John F. Kennedy) H1. The journey towards change is complex; however staff engagement and collaboration are important to create more positive workplace. My learning has equipped me with fresh thinking to consider the short-term crisis versus the medium and long-term goals whilst mapping out and refocusing my learning plan. The reflective assessment is hereby beneficial to share my experience at the health care organisation and ensure standard of care to create values for the service users. The current crisis is a perfect time for me to pitch the benefits of adapting to new ways of working, with a remote work force and the need to drive productivity, to focus on building a more cohesive culture starting with more open communication and collaboration is imaginable. Order Now Transitioning colleagues from the current ways of working to the desired way of working would give us the competitive edge allowing us to operate as ‘a connected system, where one functions output are another’s functions inputs’. My reflection on how important John Kotters distinction between being a leader and being a manager in that leadership is a set of practices that are utilised to define what the future looks like and aligns the people with that vision, whereas management is a set of processes that are there to keep the people and technology running smoothly, such as resource management, problem-solving. Whilst I accept that change cannot happen overnight, I now have achieved technical sign off on a new learning management system, a central part of the platform includes collaboration tools. This new investment can facilitate cross boundary collaboration in the workplace which also helps me to develop my communication skill and team development activities, where I would be able to lead the team members efficiently in future. I will have the opportunity to develop and scale virtual and eLearning opportunities for the first time in the business, including for those of our employees who have been disconnected to communication with a lack of access to technology and email. Not only is the technology due to the current circumstances but to work more remotely, I can influence mindsets, collaboration and growth for the business. By nourishing this principle and constantly tapping into and ensuring there are opportunities for learning aligned to our common goals and value where I can able to enhance growth and encourage change and better practice, not just for myself but for my whole team to achieve the business objectives.


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