This article is another in the series on Leadership X Factors. Previous articles dealt with the Attitude Leadership X Factor, the ‘Office’ Leadership X Factor and this one is about the ‘Unity’ Leadership X Factor.
Unity is an attitude. I remember listening for a few moments to a physical fitness instructor on television telling us that ‘a flat stomach is an attitude’. I can’t remember what else he said that morning but this statement stuck with me. The truth is that all our actions are driven by our prevailing attitudes. A passion for unity is no exception.
Most people want to do the right thing
In our daily contact at Leadership Platform with top leaders we are often made aware of the inherent instinct of humankind to do the right thing. This is our experience in spite of much public opinion to the contrary. Many believe that our modern society is increasingly giving legitimacy to self indulgence and ego drives. They claim that selfish motives are practiced under the guise of ‘human rights’ or ’freedom’. These claims are justified in so many ways. However, our experience and research indicates that humankind have an inherent instinct to do the right thing. Admittedly having such an instinct does not mean that all of us have the confidence and courage to always do the right thing.
What is in it for me?
It is true that many of us ask: ‘what is in it for me?’ This attitude is not necessarily selfish but may be an act of defensiveness because of negative experiences in the past. The word unity is often bandied about but genuine unity is not often achieved in the work place and unfortunately neither in our homes. Many of us seem to be in a powerful Me and Them frame of mind, rather than the higher We attitude.
The Unity Leadership X Factor
The unity X factor implies that something very special happens to groupings and organisations that manage to be united in values and vision.
We are privileged to be involved with families and organisations that place sincere emphasis on values and unity. It is delightful to experience the sense of purpose and innovation that can be generated by a united team. I recall the sense of belonging, unity and enjoyment that I experienced as a young member of our school rugby first team that happened to be one of the best around. I also recall with gratitude the degree of unity that prevailed and still prevails in the large family I grew up in. Nowadays the unity of my own family is our most precious possession.
The price of unity
By implication unity is the product of specific efforts to achieve unity. Unity is not a natural happening.
Instincts to belong and possess
All of us have instincts to belong and to possess. These instincts drive our behaviour. At the most selfish level, the instincts to belong and possess may take on a materialistic value system as well as the passion to own and ‘possess’ people around us, in other words the drive for power over others. At the higher and more intelligent level, the instincts to belong and possess take on a far more spiritual and value driven meaning. At this level we embrace the universal truth that our destiny is to belong with the best around us and to possess attributes of trust and affinity with those who have high values and serve others around them. At this level our instincts are satisfied only when we feel united in the will of a loving deity as well as with our fellow beings.
Simply stated, the ability to build unity in any organisational setting is dependent on our ability to manage contact with others. We may call this communication, caring, service or common sense, but unity is not possible without mastering the skills of contact management. I realised at a certain point in my life that withdrawing into remote mountains in order to find the purpose of life has at best a short term benefit. All my higher instincts can only be satisfied by working on my contact management ability, starting with my relationship with deity and evolving to my relationship with people.
Miracles flow from changes in attitude
A major factor in making our job as leadership consultants inspirational is to witness changes of attitudes in the people we work with. In the vast majority of cases a positive change in attitude of individual leaders and/or leadership groupings lead to positive change in situations. Situations that seem to be so difficult and even impossible suddenly start to change for the better. How is this done?
The Destiny Chain
The Destiny Chain is the term we use for building unity by positioning attitudes and situations. Adriaan Groenewald explains the Leadership Platform Destiny Chain as follows:
“The first step in shifting and managing attitude is to understand the hard facts; second, openly, honestly and boldly identify and confront the negative perceptions of individuals; third, take individuals on a journey of exploring possible positives and even opportunities that the situation presents; fourth, help them see some bigger picture, a vision (organisational or personal) that gives context to the current situation; fifth, plot solutions, directions, actions; sixth, ensure relevant structures and resources are there to make the directions work; seventh, ensure follow through, evaluation, assessment of decided actions in order to adjust and do the necessary to achieve plans.”
Real life experiences
After some years of applying the Destiny Chain process with many leadership groupings, we have a rich heritage of successful movements to call on. Recently we had the privilege of evaluating the management responses of several organizations under severe pressure because of external factors that they have no control over. Several of these organizations have invested considerable resources over the past months and years to build unity amongst their top management. They apply the principles of the Destiny Chain as outlined above. As a consequence of their investment in attitude and situational dynamics, they are responding to the pressure with unity, confidence and enthusiasm. It was also quite startling to become aware of the reaction of associated management teams that have not made a similar investment in building unity. The result under pressure is suspicion, lack of unity and an atmosphere of threat.
Are you and I unity leaders?
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Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Louis on firstname.lastname@example.org for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation.