Shifting Social Norms as a Leader

Each time we connect with friends working at a start-up, someone shares their struggle with management styles, project management, or the way Founders combine the two. It isn’t easy to offer the pathways for individuals to find the right fit in a strategy. Or to make collaboration accessible to each team member in the way that works best for them, but it’s possible over time.

Looking back at our parents’ generation, and their parents’ generation, it’s easy to notice the shift from an assembly line or top-down mentality to a networked and interdependent approach in organizational relationships. In theory, and in practice, this is a great opportunity for health and wellness in the office. Cultures that value authentic contributions and equitable engagements are great for the mind, body, and spirit. In the between stages, during the change process when there is a high-risk for negativity to spread, how do we manage?

As new roles are defined, iterated, and built upon; processes develop best when teams can move in agile ways. For our own organizational strategy, our team at Social Ciphers Consulting draws inspiration from the Holocracy process. In all of the methods we draw inspiration from, like Holocracy, “instead of operating top-down, power is distributed throughout the organization, giving individuals and teams more freedom to self-manage, while staying aligned to the organization’s purpose.”

We can find other working examples of organizations who have opted out of the top-down structure. Valve aims to gain the benefits of negotiating relational boundaries through the inter-dependent style of a flat hierarchy, expecting teams to self-manage while leaving veto power to the Founder.

The tricky part is moving from the old mentalities toward the new in a trauma-informed way, to avoid lag due to distracting trauma symptoms as teams shift – and the complaints that come with a lack of trauma-sensitive strategy. Think of all the innovation time wasted on discomfort during a change when it can be avoided, with just a few practices.

Outside of our unique Trauma-Informed Business Development™ process, one of my favorite trauma-informed ways to decrease stress through team bonding is to create a ritual at the introduction of each new milestone or project. This prepares the human system, biology, for renewal. One of our Social Ciphers Network™ members chose to ‘call to the muses’. In ancient Rome, the original meaning of genius was ‘to give birth or bring forth’. Before allowing each new creation, our human ability to transform ideas into what we choose, as individuals and as we share them with our peers, was celebrated by these women and men through drinking a favorite tea and remembering the ways they found their “inner muse” as they began their careers. Stories were shared around the circle and, as their process for a new project began, it seemed as though the muses were truly embodied.

Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash

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© Social Ciphers Consulting 2018

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