Tipping The Scales: Engaged vs. Disengaged

“Spread a mindset, not just a footprint.” -Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao Scaling Up Excellence: Getting To More Without Settling For Less

We live in a time where there are more tools, platforms and opportunity for communication than in any other time in our history. And for that reason, there is also greater illusion that communication is actually taking place, that clarity and understanding is widespread.

And yet, we only have to look at the data of widespread employee disengagement to realize that the commitment that often arises from true clarity of clear communication is not happening in and across our organizations. (According to Gallup, only about 29% of the American workforce is considered actively engaged).

Which means that scaling is a real concern in and for our modern 21st century organizations. Whether that be in regards to clarity, commitment, communication, creativity, or innovation. Otherwise, those glimmers of creative and innovative excellence will continue to reside only in pockets and fail to scale at any widespread level across our organizations.

According to Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao in their work Scaling Up Excellence, ”Scaling unfolds with less friction and more consistency when the people propelling it agree on what is right and wrong – and on what to pay attention to and what to ignore.  Effective scaling depends on believing and living a shared mindset…”

Which gets to the heart of the matter…

Growing numbers of disengaged employees, increased access leading to assumed clarity of communication, as well as minimal understanding on the leadership skills that enhance the opportunity and likelihood for more creative and innovative environments is inhibiting a shared mindset in our organizations.

Which harkens back to what Sutton and Rao are expounding. We are creating organizational cultures where disengagement often arises as a matter of frustration. Frustration from not being sure; of what to ignore, of what to focus upon, of what the next steps are, of what to commit too, and what to let go of, and even of who to follow.

Frustration and disengagement that is arising out of unsureness; out of uncertainty and ambiguity of the wrong kind.

As Sutton and Rao share, “Spreading, and updating a mindset requires relentless vigilance. It requires stating the beliefs and living the behavior, and then doing so again and again. These shared convictions reduce confusion; disagreements, and unnecessary dead ends – and diminish the chances that excellence with fade as your footprint expands.”

If we are going to overcome the engaged vs. the disengaged and scale up our organizations at all levels, it will require this “vigilance” from leadership. We will have to move from beyond assumed communication to true, authentic understanding and clarity at all levels, especially if a shared mindset is what we are after. Or as Sutton and Rao share…

It is going to take “a ground war” and not just an “air strike” to spread a mindset.

“There is a big difference between distributing your banner, logo, or motto as far and wide as possible versus having a deep and enduring influence on how employees and customers think, act, feel and filter information.” -Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao ‘Scaling Up Excellence’ 


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