Leadership: The Great Oz And Our Organizational Curtains

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”  -L. Frank Baum via The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Organizational dysfunction is very often the Great Oz of our time…

And until we determine to take a peak behind our proverbial curtain, until we peel back those drapes, we are often left unaware of all of that may truly exist, concealed in the hidden depths of our organization.

A question may be, why?  Why do our organizational curtains exist?

Peeling back our organizational curtains can be difficult, even painful, disruptive and unsettling simultaneously.  There is the fear of the unknown and sometimes, the fear of the known as well.  Many of the  “issues” lurking behind the veil haven’t seen the light of day for a very long, long time.  Out of sight, out of mind is often incorporated as a valid leadership strategy.  However, we must understand…

In all reality, leaders face two challenges in overcoming their organizational curtains.

  • A distorted representation of what lies behind the screen
  • The possibility of disrupting and disturbing the current level of order 

Unfortunately, many leaders interact constantly with a distorted representation of reality, one of which will eventually surface over time.  When the culture and atmosphere of the organization avoids or shields leadership from the brutal truth of their circumstances, when leadership is provided a slanted version of reality, trust and progress are inhibited and impeded.  Creating increasing levels of distrust and dysfunction.  The flow of frustration through the body of the organization (those in the trenches) is a byproduct of the awareness that decisions are being enacted from incorrect and inaccurate data.  Often causing irreparable damage to the organization and their leadership.

“Nobody gets in to see the wizard.  Not nobody.”   –L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz)

Whereas, there are also those leaders who are very aware of what lies behind the curtain and refuse to confront the reality of those “issues” within their organization.  Leadership becomes more about keeping the ship floating and heading forward than about creating excellence, a more, better ship.  The moment where management takes hold of the helm, replacing any last visages of leadership.  Pacifying, pleasing, and peace keeping become strategies to avoid conflict.  Choosing a glossy, shiny, well-manicured veneer, over the tenacity and will required to build real depth.  Believing that what lies behind the curtain, what lurks below the surface, if kept at bay will not affect the organization.

When leadership transfigures into management, there can be the tendency to cover-up rather than attend to the true source of issues and concerns.  Perpetuating the misnomer that if you can keep the problem covered and held in check long enough, it will eventually heal and go away.

“If we walk far enough,” says Dorothy, “we shall sometime come to someplace.”  -L. Frank Baum (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)

An organization can only keep the lid on issues of dysfunction and decay for so long before they finally bubble up and over, blowing the lid off and spewing forth.  Organizational decay and dysfunction always have a tendency to work their way to the forefront in one manner or another.

And while it might not be immediate, a time will come for every organization and their leadership to wrestle with what lies behind their organizational curtains and to face the brutal truth of their reality.

Which begs the question, what lies hidden behind the curtains of your organization?

“You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz.  “All you need is confidence in yourself.  There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger.  The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.”  -L. Frank Baum (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)

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