One of the biggest challenges to creating an integrated aligned organization is the prevalence of power plays between layers and divisions in a company. All too often silos persist between teams who feel disconnected from those above them and vice versa. One way to build an integrated company is to offer leadership development opportunities that include a mix of players across the company and up and down the chain of command.
Recently I delivered an Alignment training to the senior team of a finance company. As we often see on senior teams, each leader was focused on performance and hadn’t spent enough time together to form relationships conducive to alignment.
To improve this situation we encouraged the CEO to expand his leadership program to include a wider circle of leaders in the company.
The company had been running a leadership program for quite a while but had kept the group small, only including the senior most leaders at the highest level. While this had helped to bond the senior leaders, the level below felt disempowered and left out of the loop. At first the decision to widen the circle was focused on building the skills of the next level down, but actually the real benefit was in helping the two groups bond on a more personal level.
The new group invited was understandably nervous about entering the group of more senior leaders that had already been participating in the program for some time. To help integrate the new group we invited the first group to share their leadership journey as past participants in the program. We then introduced the SHUVA principle and asked all to practice it as they listened to the stories told. SHUVA is an acronym I created that stands for 5 actions we can all take - to see, hear, understand, value, and appreciate one another to satisfy 5 universal needs we all have, the need to be seen, heard, understood, valued, and appreciated.
The newer group was instructed to SHUVA the storyteller by writing a short note about what they learned by listening to the story. These notes were then collected and read aloud to the leader sharing their story. The senior leaders were also encouraged to listen to the notes with SHUVA to really understand the impact their story was having on others. As each story was told the story telling became richer and more authentic. This was an opportunity to SHUVA themselves while also connecting to and supporting emerging leaders.
This activity brought down the normal barriers we see between leaders and the level below them. Everyone left that room with a much deeper sense of appreciation that they are part of a wider group, part of a team, where everyone is on a journey to become a better leader. By practicing the SHUVA principle, each becomes a teacher and student, dissolving the power differential at least for a little while between one another.
One participant declared that this was the best experience they had in terms of feeling like an integral part of the leadership team and the company. They had so seldom had the opportunity to get to know the level above them on a more personal level. It was so inspiring to see what was possible by simply ‘SHUVAing’ each other.
And now they are fired up to do the same with their direct reports.
My hope in people and culture change restores ten fold when I witness how quickly Alignment principles and practices can transform a team.
If you would like to see similar results in your company, let’s connect. We promise to SHUVA you as we explore your best hopes for a more empowered and connected experience at your company.