By Destiny Chukwuma Ogbonnaya
Have you worked in any organisation that substantially disregards or pays lip service to its mission, vision, motto or core values? They usually have a bad culture and the leaders are knowingly or unknowingly digging a blackhole that would sink the entire organisation.
I agree with John C. Maxwell that ALL rises and falls on leadership. Thus, if leaders propagate or permit destructive values and cultures that ultimately destroy the organisation they lead, they should still be held accountable and responsible. The buck stops at their desk, the saying goes.
The mission, vision, motto or core values of any organisation are supposed to be so idealistic to the extent that the organisation will forever strive to meet them. As long as they are striving towards the ideals, all things being equal, values would be created by the organisation and organisational objectives would be met in a sustainable manner. Even when anyone disagrees that an organisation that pursues ideals embedded in their organisational philosophies will likely do well; it cannot be argued that an organisation that indulges in destructive cultures would sustainbly do better instead.
There is this blackhole-creating- tendency of stating the mission, vision, motto or core values on black and white; but turning around to do things that are oftentimes completely opposite or misaligned with those ideals. Consequently, what suppose to be ideals end up as a mere propaganda which may not even worth the beautiful papers and plaques they are printed on.
Eventually, if the members of the organisation test those ideals many times and realize that the leaders were not upholding them or sincere about them, their commitment would wane and blackhole creators would multiply! When both the leaders and members of an organisation are all pretending to be acting based on the philosophical imperatives of their ideals, the organisation is speeding towards a blackhole. This is how the ethical structure of organisations rusts and such organisations merely await a substantial external force that would trigger a controlled demolition of the organisational structure or a sudden collapse of the entire organisation.
For instance, if an organisation state that they make the world a better place but their production process causes emissions that cause global warming and climate change, the discerning ones would begin to question how values are epistemologically intepreted in that organisation. The right attitude would be to move towards the use of clean energy so that the members of the organisation would really believe in the organisational integrity. People do the impossible when their beliefs align with the ideals of the organisation.
Another example is the issue of equality, diversity and inclusion. Some organisations design their processes to rubbish the very essence of what equality, diversity and inclusion purposes. Yet, they may even have a directorate in charge of equality, diversity and inclusion. Their main focus is to appear to be compliant and not really being compliant to such worthy ideals of creating a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. The discerning ones know that bitter cola does not taste in the mouth the way it sounds in the mouth.
There is an Igbo saying that goes “ibe ima nkea, I ma nko ozo?”. It loosely translates into “since you know this one, do you know the other one?”. My hypothesis on the leadership blackhole is this: If a leader thinks and acts in a manner that weakens the beliefs of members of the organisation in the ideals of the organisation, the members will act in disbelief of the organisational ideals and such actions may lead to poor achievements of the organisation’s goals or ultimately lead to the destruction of the organisation.
Creating a leadership blackhole due to lack of commitment to organisational ideals seems to apply to many other settings such as in family, community, nation, anywhere people come together under any form of ideals. For instance, if a father continues to tell all the children that he is treating all of them equally and fairly but indulges in preferential treatment of one. One day, the others will challenge their father, in some form, on his notion of equality and fairness. The same with nations. There are societal circumstances that come to test the leadership integrity on societal ideals. Take for instance, in America, racism is the biggest test to its leaders. Abraham Lincoln transcended times because he upheld the purest form of the ideals that ” all men are created equal”. In Africa, the test of leaders include tribal loyalty instead of national loyalty. The entire governance systems are sometimes designed to privilege a tribe and disadvantage the other tribe. Oftentimes, this perverted ideals end up holding the entire nation down. The energy that would have been expended to release the potential of all citizens are expended towards sustaining tribalism. When leaders buy into these organisational propaganda instead of upholding organisational ideals, they create a blackhole.
What is the way out?
If you are a leader, be a philosophical leader. Think and reflect more on the ideals of your organisation. In all circumstances, use rational reasoning to find a balance that would keep the organisation in equilibrium. This involves absorbing as much as possible evidence from the members of the organisation and then subjecting all of them to the ideals of the organisation. It therefore becomes imperative that an organisation must first have worthy ideals to pursue. It does not matter if you are leading in your family, community, nation, business and what have you. Focus on the ideals as the driving force for value creation. As long as you pursue all those ideals as leaders, you will achieve organisational integrity that would cause many members of the organisation to embrace the organisational culture. By leaders, I mean those who have influence on the direction of an organisation. Leadership is transient and people at lower cadre in the organisation are constantly observing those in leadership positions or those with leadership influence. Thus, harmony in an organisation can be created if there is a substantial alignment of everyone’s ideals to the organisational ideals. Leading would be simplified if it is reduced to three categories of tasks: ” finding the ideals, helping the members of the organisation to understand the ideals and ensuring that members comply to the ideals since they already know that those ideals would guarantee the organisation a sustainable future”.
Although I have categorised leadership into three major tasks. It is not that simple to find the ideals, teach the ideals and implement the ideals. For instance, it would take strategic leadership to find the ideals. In a family, the parents can help find the ideals since they are more mature. In a nation, political leaders should find the ideals. Again, there is a complexity in the process of finding the ideals.
I would recommend that leaders or intending leaders use the Questelligence framework which will reduce these three categories into three process-time dynamic interconnected “stories”. The Questelligence framework can enable leaders to use 7-domains of reasoning to create and analyse the three categories of the leadership tasks. If you want to explore leadership ideals using the Questelligence framework, contact Comrade Tutors Ltd at firstname.lastname@example.org. They have Questelligence Toolkits that facilitate thinking. Each leadership position is unique and your contextual domains are quite different even when your organisation is similar with that of others. For articles on the Questelligence framework, read Systematic thinking and cognitive costs , The laws of attraction versus the law of recognition and The notion of time and the fluidity of the mind. More articles on Questelligence will be published, so sign up for email alerts.
In summary, sustainable leadership involves making all the efforts in the world not to create a leadership blackhole. If leadership processes create a blackhole, then the organisation will end up in it in a mater of time, as a matter of principle. Therefore, leaders should find the ideals for the organisation they lead, create a culture that would promote the ideals and supervise the implementation of the ideals. Unless, the ideals were worthless ab initio, a systematic pursuit of the ideals would create values preconceived by the organisation.