To avoid becoming a victim when working in an unhealthy organization a person needs to decide whether to stay and try to rise above the unhealthiness or go and get away from it. If a person stays, they’ll need to be in a place where they can protect themselves, assuring they don’t become a victim. Typically this isn’t a good long-term strategy because organizational health is contagious and at some point a person will catch the same disease affecting the organization. So the best option is to move on.
But when the cause of an unraveling career and life is the person’s own unhealthiness then they’re at risk of losing their job. You see, unhealthy people typically do not take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions and actions. They begin to blame others, including their employer, for their messy life. When this happens a person becomes a victim, and since people don’t like to work with victims, they slowly lose their influence in the organization and ultimately lose their jobs.
And the reason people don’t like to work with victims is because they’re either a downer to be around or they begin to act like a martyr. Martyrs find self-worth by believing their sacrificing more for the organization than anyone else. They believe their sacrifice gives them a special dispensation to do and say what they want to people they perceived to be less committed (which is pretty much everyone else). Sometimes victims and martyrs will rally together against all the perceived injustices done to them which only alienate them further from the rest of the organization.
So don’t let yourself become a victim, take responsibility for your life and career, and you’ll never leave an organization because of someone else’s decision.43.928283-85.286682
As I mentioned in my last post, I found out at the end of last year that I have high cholesterol, so I’ve been working to lower it naturally before June (when I have my follow-up appointment with my Doctor). And my take away has been realizing just how important momentum is, not only in improving my health, but in organizational health and effectiveness.
Now momentum, whether it’s personal or organizational, doesn’t last forever. Momentum always slows down and eventually hits a plateau. Now plateaus can be good things, if we’ve planned for them and know how we’ll move off from them.
But the truth is plateau’s usually catches us by surprise. And by the time we accept that momentum is slipping away we’re usually too late to keep the old momentum going, putting us in real danger of sliding backwards. And the hard reality is we either going forward or going backwards. We never stay at the plateaus long because they’re just transition points leading to either positive or negative momentum. Plateaus are not livable places.
Unfortunately I’ve experienced this truth as I’ve tried in the past to get into better shape. For example, I may begin to run regularly and lose some weight but then my running will become inconsistent and I’ll start eating poorly then my health will plateau. This usually happens just before I slowly start gaining a few pounds (usually explaining them away), and then, before I know it, I’m back, health wise, to where I started (or worse).
Why does this happen?
First, I didn’t anticipate that someday my fitness momentum will would come to an end nor did I anticipate the possible causes for why it end.
Second, I never created a written plan that would address these causes so I could continue to improve, or at least maintain my current level of fitness.
Third was the fact that I was not quick to accept that my momentum was actually beginning to ebb away and so wasn’t prepared to go into quick and necessary action before negative momentum set in.
And unfortunately these are the same reasons organizational momentum slips away. The leader doesn’t anticipate, plan, and quickly accept that momentum is beginning to slow down. The consequence is the leader trades the easier work of early action for the hard work (usually done by a new leader) of reversing negative momentum.43.928283-85.286682
At the end of 2012 I had a physical exam. And as I expected everything turned out fine except my cholesterol levels. I anticipated that my LDL cholesterol might be high because of our family history and because, over the last few years, I’ve committed the two sins of managing cholesterol – eating whatever I wanted to and not exercising consistently (thus my weight was also at an all-time high).
So when the doctor suggested I go on medication I told him I wanted six months to straighten out my eating and exercise regimen to see if I could correct my high cholesterol naturally. He agreed, so I have until June to see if I can improve my cholesterol levels.
Now, even though I won’t find out until June if my cholesterol has lowered, I have had other, more visible, gains. For example I’ve lost 18 pounds and reduced my mile splits (running is my exercise of choice) by minute and a half. As a matter of fact it seems that the more weight I lose the faster I run and the faster I run the more weight I loose.
You see my physical health is now experiencing positive momentum. But before I started to focus on my health, its momentum, I have to admit, was steadily, but discernibly, going in the wrong direction.
This got me to thinking; my health momentum parallel’s an organization’s momentum. And just like my health, organizations are either going forward or going backward, they’re never standing still.
And like taking charge of my health, a leader’s job is to build the organization’s forward momentum.
But as I’ve learned over the last few months, reversing downward momentum is hard work. It requires goals, investment, focus, discipline, constant and timely feedback on performance, and the tenacity to stay with it until the momentum’s reversed and beginning to go in the right direction.
So what’s the momentum of your health, your life, the organization or team you lead? If it’s headed in the wrong direction maybe it’s time to do what’s required to get that positive momentum going again before you have to take the hard medicine.43.928283-85.286682
In Patrick Lencioni’s new book The Advantage he makes his case for why organizational health is the most important characteristic in any successful business or not for profit organization.
“At its core, organizational health is about integrity, but not in the ethical or moral way that integrity is defined so often today. An organization has integrity – is healthy – when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when its management, operations, strategy and culture fit together and make sense.
…any organization that really wants to maximize its success must come to embody two basic qualities: it must be smart, and it must be healthy.
Smart organizations are good at those classic fundamentals of business – subjects like strategy, marketing, finance, and technology – which I consider to be decision sciences.
But being smart is only half the equation. Yet somehow it occupies almost all the time, energy, and attention of most executives. The other half of the equation, the one that is largely neglected, is about being healthy.
A good way to recognize health is to look for the signs that indicate an organization has it. These include minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among good employees.
The vast majority of organizations today have more than enough intelligence, expertise, and knowledge to be successful. What they lack is organizational health.
This point is worth restating.
After two decades of working with CEO’s and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with the how healthy they are.”43.928283-85.286682