I have always enjoyed Henry Mitzberg’s writing on leadership issues. This summer’s Harvard Business Review (HBR) included a thoughtful piece entitled “Rebuilding Companies as Communities.” He states we are facing a crisis that is more significant than our current economic one. That is – “the depreciation in companies of community where people’s sense of belonging and caring for someone larger than themselves.”
Minzberg goes on to say companies need to re-engage their people, and that the practice of both management and leadership needs to be rethought. Why? Because there is a belief that people in leadership isolate themselves, therefore undermining a sense of community in organizations.
The kind of community Minzberg describes is very familiar to Christians. He describes community as caring about our colleagues, our work, our place in the world and in turn being inspired by this caring. He goes on to describe examples like Toyota, Pixar and General Electric.
Further, keys to building community, according to Minzberg, include finding where it already exists within an organization, build an atmosphere of trust and define a compelling culture. The article ends with four recommendations on how to develop community – the core of healthy organizations.
Here’s a question. Does your organization meet the criteria Mitzberg identifies as having community? I’m pleased to say, after leading BCWI for seven years, we can and have identified many Christian workplaces that shine as great examples of community.
At this year’s Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels challenged the 120,000 Christian leaders present to build an environment where we radically love one another in community. He firmly believes the local church is the hope of the world and he challenged us to “be the church” to each other in these difficult days. Yet even with the remarkable gift of the Holy Spirit, community does not seem to happen automatically.
Let’s admit it. There are still too many organizations that have a Christian purpose that can describe their workplace culture as “toxic.” What do I mean by toxic? When I use the term, unfortunately people seem to intuitively know what I mean. They are places filled with internal politics, fear, lack of trust and closed to new ideas, causing low levels of engagement, even detachment.
Toxic cultures in Christian organizations must be changed, for God’s sake and our own. Yet, we recognize this is not easy. As Minzberg says, to re-engage people we must rethink how we practice both leadership and management. I suggest we need to go another step beyond his recommendation to slow down and reflect and that is …to pray. See our website for more resources to improve your leadership and management competence for staff engagement.
Will you join me on the quest for Toxic free Christian Workplaces! To see a list of Best Christian Workplaces to learn from, go to www.bcwinstitute.com.