It is far too often that I hear people say how unchallenged they are in their jobs or how much more they can contribute. How many of you know of people that show up every day to a job that utilizes a mere fraction of their potential?
Think of a small start-up. The owner pretty much does everything at first - business development, marketing, sales, product development, accounting, everything! And as the company grows, different people are dedicated to the different company activities. And as the company grows even more, the activities are further sub-divided.
The more and more we create complexity and produce at higher volumes, the less scope of responsibility a person gets, and the less utilization of their “full potential” we can expect to experience.
People, their whole self, are made up of mind, body, heart, and spirit. For us to live and express our greatness, we must express our whole self. Stephen Covey’s Eighth Habit refers to this as our “voice”. For us to fulfill on our innate potential, we must find and express our voice, and for us to lead people effectively, we must help them find theirs. The highest expression of our voice can be seen through vision (mind), discipline (body), passion (heart), and conscience (spirit).
If you think of a start-up through the lens of voice, the entrepreneur gets to express their full voice through the experiences across all the different aspects of the business. Ultimately, they are the voice of the company. As the business grows, its voice starts to be expressed by multiple people.
As more and more people are added, the company’s voice risks being fragmented. And because people’s scope and responsibility becomes more and more limited, it becomes more and more difficult for them to fully express their voice. Instead of looking after the full lifecycle of a product or process, they are sometimes limited to as little as one step. Ultimately feeling like their ability to shape, impact, or improve the results, or their environment, is close to impossible.
This fragmentation doesn’t only impact the employees - it impacts the company as a whole. The company’s ability to continue being a leader in its market, to innovate, to withstand difficult economic times or stresses, all become less and less possible. The asset that once fuelled and drove the company, it’s people, becomes disempowered and ineffective at everything but eroding the value of the company.
So how do we manage this? By singing together. One sure way to do this is by ensuring that your company’s voice, it’s mind, body, heart, and spirit - what it stands for, it’s “why”, is clearly expressed. This is usually expressed through the company vision, mission, and values.
Having a clear vision, mission, and set of values, is a good start. However, having them fully endorsed by everyone within the organization, where people are fully enrolled and aligned, is the key to a thriving company.
As you start to exemplify and live by your values, and executing your mission to achieve your company vision, you start to develop a culture that keeps the company’s voice whole and fully expressed. You begin to create a synergistic workplace - one with one voice. Imagine a choir - while each member contributes differently and with their own voice, the overall voice of the choir, the ensemble, is full of depth, full of energy, and all of it, all of their energy contributes to the harmonious voice of the choir. Imagine a workplace that is as dynamic and focused as a choir. How effective and successful would it be?
When you have a synergistic workplace, you create a pathway for your employees to also express their own voices. When they are working in a synergistic environment where they feel connected to the “why”, they start to execute as if it were their own start-up. They put blood sweat and tears into it. Or at least they will be more likely to do so should it ever be needed.
Effective leadership is a key element in ensuring that the company’s voice is fully expressed and that its assets, the people, are fully enrolled and working on fulfilling the company vision, mission, and values.
A company that is made up of people that are empowered to fully express their voice, will ultimately create results that will surprise you, your market, and your shareholders. Keep nurturing this and you will see your company grow into something you never thought possible. After all, not only do we sound better, but we are also much more successful when we sing together.