It’s an intriguing time to be at work. There are numerous simultaneous ‘movements’ (fitting loosely under the umbrella phrase ‘Future of Work’) taking place within a growing number of organizations that are redefining the employer-employee relationship.
Organizational structures are shifting to support self-managing / self-organizing approaches. Organizational cultures are shifting to place more emphasis on employees, communities, and the environment. In parallel with these shifts, employees continue to demand more from their life at work.
What I am most excited about is the emphasis these movements place on creating an environment that encourages individuals to pursue being their best selves.
That’s where I believe a whole new tool/concept comes in — the concept of self-coaching. Self-coaching is part of the Future of Work organizational toolkit. In fact, self-coaching, and/or other self-awareness development tools, will be critical to successfully maneuver through these shifts.
In this post I cover the following:
- A brief overview of three ‘movements’ that all encourage more conscious cultures
- Teal Organizations
- Conscious Business
- Conscious Capitalism
- Conscious cultures require conscious individuals
- Self-coaching is a new pragmatic way to help individuals become more conscious
Let’s start by looking at how three of these key movements describe the desired employee experience.
In his book Reinventing Organizations, Frederick Laloux describes the evolutionary stages of organizational development using colors as the labeling device. This book provides an in-depth look at the history of organizational evolution and where we are heading. It’s a great resource that I highly encourage you to check out.
Most corporate organizations today are what he calls ‘orange’ organizations characterized by a primary goal to beat the competition through profit and growth. Management is by objectives (command and control on what, freedom (in most cases) on how).
There are also a relatively large and growing number of ‘green’ organizations (not the environmental ‘green’ movement). These organizations continue to leverage the classic pyramid structure and have a heightened focus on values-based cultures and empowerment to achieve extraordinary employee motivation.
While green organizations have taken great strides to put more emphasis on creating a positive employee experience, Laloux notes that the next wave, what he calls ‘teal’ organizations, go much further in this regard.
For his book, Laloux found 12 ‘pioneer’ organizations that have organically evolved into various flavors of self-organizing / self-managing teal organizations. Somewhat surprising to him, they varied greatly in size (from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands of employees) and industry (both for profit and non-profits in multiple economic sectors) and were located in many different countries.
He was excited to find that these companies were unaware of each other and yet evolved to have similar structures and processes in place.
While acknowledging this is early days, these organizations demonstrate that this is not a theoretical or utopian idea, but a concrete blueprint for the future of organizations that reflect a higher stage of consciousness.
Laloux saw that while teal organizations can have greatly different cultures, there were a number of cultural elements that tend to be present in all of them. (He notes that this list is neither exhaustive nor prescriptive but that it provides good food for thought.)
- Cultural Element #1 – Self-Management: Teal organizations work to make it as easy as possible for each individual to be efficient and effective in doing their part to help the company succeed. High levels of freedom and high levels of accountability exist.
- Cultural Element #2 – Wholeness: Many of us leave a part of ourselves at the door when we go into work. Teal organizations encourage everybody to bring their ‘whole self’ to work, to bring the fullness of who they are.
- Cultural Element #3 – Purpose: No longer just focused on the organization’s purpose (which is hugely important), teal organizations see a duty to help individuals seek their own purpose, to see if and how it resonates with that of the organization.
Of course this sounds great on paper and, as you can appreciate, this is quite a shift from the world of work that most of us are used to (and often comfortable with). This is an exciting trend that I look forward to following and contributing to.
Frederick Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations website has many free resources you can use as well as ideas on how you can participate in this movement.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Fred Kofman present on multiple occasions. His book, Conscious Business, provides tactical tips and guidelines on how to build a conscious business, one that ‘fosters personal fulfillment in the individuals, mutual respect in the community, and success in the organization.’
Fred Kofman posits “Conscious employees are an organization’s most important asset; unconscious employees are its most dangerous liability.”
He articulates seven qualities to distinguish conscious from unconscious employees. The first three are character attributes:
- Unconditional Responsibility – knowing that there is always a choice in how to respond to a situation.
- Essential Integrity – ensuring that our values-in-action agree with our own essential values.
- Ontological Humility – acknowledging that we do not have a special claim on reality or truth, that others have equally valid perspectives deserving respect and consideration.
The second three are interpersonal skills:
- Authentic Communication – how to express ourselves honestly while honoring others and our relationships with them.
- Constructive Negotiation – focusing on how to win ‘with’ the other rather than ‘over’ the other.
- Impeccable Coordination – bringing clarity to the exchange of requests and commitments.
The seventh quality is an enabling condition for the other six:
- Emotional Mastery – Being aware of and able to manage our emotions.
Fred has a Conscious Business Friends LinkedIn group where members discuss items of interest. He has also launched a Conscious Business Academy on LinkedIn where he generously shares lots of great content and offers an extensive (free!) certification program.
John Mackey and Raj Sisodia co-authored the book Conscious Capitalism. For me, this model provides a more holistic view of the organization and emphasizes the importance of shifting away from primarily serving financial stakeholders, to giving balanced priority to other critical stakeholders such as customers, employees, suppliers, (local) communities, and the environment.
As pertains to employees, Conscious Capitalism engenders passionate and inspired team members by creating “…purposeful work environments that……challenge and encourage their team members to learn and grow….” and “…that enable team members to flourish as self-actualizing human beings.”
John and Raj label these purposeful work environments as conscious cultures. They use the acronym TACTILE. They like this word as it suggests that conscious cultures are so strong that they have a tangible presence.
- Trust – High levels of trust exist internally, both vertically (across different levels of employees) and horizontally (across the organization), and externally between the company and it’s various stakeholder groups.
- Accountability – People stick to their commitments and hold each other accountable for performance, efficiency, and deliverables.
- Caring – People behave in ways that are thoughtful, authentic, considerate, and compassionate.
- Integrity – There is a strict adherence to truth telling and fair dealing.
- Loyalty – All the stakeholders are loyal to each other and to the organization.
- Egalitarianism – Class systems (leaders vs. front-line employees) are minimized or eliminated. Everyone is treated with respect and dignity.
Conscious Capitalism (consciouscapitalism.org) is a non-profit that is not driven by any single organization or leader. It is a collaboration of like-minded leaders that are out to ‘liberate the heroic spirit of business.’ There are currently 26 chapter affiliates, 18 in the United States and eight outside of the US.
You can find the chapters listed on the main website (link above) if you are interested to see if there might be a chapter where you live. (I’m a member of the Conscious Capitalism Bay Area Chapter in the San Francisco Bay Area.)
Conscious Cultures Require Conscious Individuals
Let me first say that these are just three of MANY like-minded movements / shifts / ideas / groups / methodologies (etc..) that are bubbling up and gathering momentum (just a few others are: B-Corps, Benefit Corporations, Holacracy, Deliberately Developmental Organizations, Wisdom 2.0, Social Ventures Network.) The three I wrote about above are the ones I feel I’m able to share without butchering the content. It’s exciting to know there is so much going on in this area!
The world is a big lab for these concepts and there are many experiments underway. As with any shift like this, it will take time (a long time) and there will be many innovative models that emerge along the way.
As I mentioned earlier, what excites me the most about these shifts is the emphasis on encouraging us to bring our whole and best selves to the foreground; honoring our humanity and dignity.
Organizations that embrace this human-centric focus will push their employees to explore and expand their own self-awareness and consciousness for individual, organizational, and societal benefit.
Both Conscious Business and Conscious Capitalism include this human-centric focus as part of what they call a ‘conscious culture.’
Intuitively, conscious cultures start with and are built upon conscious individuals.
(A Quick Aside) – Um, What is a Conscious Individual?
Allow me a brief digression here. In the summer of 2011 I had left my job and was taking a few months to think about what my next move would be. I had lunch with a dear friend who told me that she and her husband were doing some cool ‘consciousness’ work.
With some slight embarrassment I asked her “what do you mean by ‘consciousness?’” She replied that ‘it’s about becoming more self-aware.’ She pointed me to some resources that became the beginnings of quite a cool personal growth journey.
I share this because now that I am ‘inside the consciousness tent,’ I may flip words around as if everybody understands them. I like to remind myself that a short five years ago, in my late 40s, I had to ask “what do you mean by consciousness?”
It’s been my own experiences over these past several years that have gotten me so passionate about wanting to help businesses understand the power of having a more conscious workforce!
Self-Coaching – One Way to Help Individuals Become More Conscious
So, as I’ve noted, one aspect of goodness shared across all of these shifts is the emphasis on helping individuals become (more) conscious. More leaders understand the value of enabling the people in their organizations to self-actualize. And more individuals want to be allowed to truly be themselves at work, to pursue their full potential.
With this in mind, I’ve created a self-coaching approach that teaches people how to make positive behavioral shifts to help them be more effective at work WHILE becoming more conscious.
In addition to learning how to make positive behavioral shifts in their lives, other individual benefits of self-coaching include:
- Heightening self-awareness;
- Improving the ability to focus;
- Enhancing ability to choose responses / make decisions (response-ability);
- Cultivating more supportive/collaborative interpersonal relationships;
- Becoming a better coach;
- Improving the ability to be coached;
- Continuing to unlock potential and pursue being one’s best self
The organization also benefits. Some examples are:
- Individuals that are more focused, effective and engaged,
- Meetings that are more efficient,
- Employee-manager relationships that are stronger, and
- Teams that are more collaborative.
Self-coaching is a great fit for organizations that have embraced any flavor of the various ‘Future of Work’ shifts described above. It’s also packaged in a way that is performance-oriented and is therefore more likely to be accepted in organizations that are still a bit leery about these new ideas.
I’m not suggesting that self-coaching is a required component of conscious cultures. I am suggesting that it is one powerful lever that companies should consider when they are building a conscious culture.
Your Comments and Questions – Let’s Talk
I’d love to hear your comments or questions about self-coaching. I’m excited to bring these ideas forward and work with organizations who want to help their employees be their best authentic selves both inside and outside of the workplace, who want to help their employees become more conscious as part of creating a (more) conscious culture.