For my first official blog post of 2014 – as opposed to my first unofficial blog post – I thought it fitting to share my model for leadership in organizations, as well as life. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good model?
Since the industrial revolution, many organizations have become increasingly concerned with their purpose: Why do we exist? What is driving what we do?
Consequently, leaders of these organizations have taken an interest in how to build effective teams, how to maintain relationships with these teams and how to complete their work with minimal stress. Doesn’t that sound glorious? This results in needing to know not only “what” we are supposed to be doing, but also “why” we are doing it.
As I’ve thought about this, I’ve come up with two planes of consideration: Being and Doing. This model represents the need for balance between the Being – which includes the big “why” – and the Doing – also known as the “what”. In highly effective, sustainable organizations, people can identify both the “why” and the “what” within their role.
“The human art form is in uniting fruitful activity with a contemplative stance, not one or the other, but always both at the same time.”
― Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
As shown below, the vertical Being axis reflects the bigger picture: the overall purpose of the organization, and the essence of the business culture. This includes the purpose, values, mission statement, goals, projects and perspectives that begin to define the collective identity of the organization. Essentially, why does this organization exist? And why do we all keep showing up here everyday despite no promise of free food or booze?
On the horizontal plane, the Doing reflects the day-to-day minutiae of a company or job: who is responsible for what, where, and when. This relates primarily to operations: processes, metrics, measurement, evaluation, action steps, completing tasks and knowing who will do it, what to do, where it needs to be done, how to do it and when.
Most importantly, the Doing of a company should align with the Being of the company.
In the leadership industry, a great deal of time is spent writing about and discussing the qualities and characteristics related to the Being plane. Within organizations, however, there is typically not a plan for addressing this plane on a consistent level. The lack of a specific approach for attending to the Being leads to inconsistent and sporadic consideration of the bigger picture, which in turn allows organizations to drift off-purpose within the Doing plane.
Conversely, organizations that do not have clear processes and ways to evaluate and account for their Doing can be consumed with doing just for doing’s sake, which puts them at risk of not knowing where they are or what direction they are headed. There is a welcomed and necessary vacillation that occurs between these two planes and both are critical for the highest levels of success.
As you are probably already putting together, this same model applies to all of life, not just the life of a company. We can apply this to our day-to-day decisions and leadership.
How do you manage the vacillation between being and doing? What works best for you to keep it all in balance?