Leaders & Followers – How Do You Treat The Workplace Script?
Leadership Lesson: It’s vital to understand the culture and environment you’re coming into but even more important to maintain your objective, critical lens through which to objectively analyze it.
In coming into any endeavor or environment, it goes without saying that the more information one has, the quicker he or she can get up to speed so they feel comfortable making their own autonomous contributions.
To work toward common success, it’s important to provide methods and a foundation of knowledge to help those individuals acclimate to the environment as smoothly as possible. The more they know as they start off, the better they can do as they progress.
Everyone needs to be provided with the right tools to get started. They need to come into a baseline process that has been established through the history of the organization of what worked and what didn’t. Today’s effective process should be the results of yesterday’s trials and errors.
That being said, the foundation is only one part of this equation. Success in any organization stems from basic foundational stability and structure complemented by agility and ongoing contributions of ideas and strategies of those who come aboard.
Moving forward in any situation entails being cognizant of the Script – that foundation of established culture, processes, and protocols – but not adhering to it strictly. No one gains anything if the same structure is maintained without any adjustment, evolution, or piqued curiosity from one worker, situation, or generation to the next.
The Script in an organization is valuable. It provides a foundation, as outlined above. Like anything else, it’s good to have a strong sense of order so that flexibility can exist to build off of it. That foundation will always be there to fall back on should the creativity afforded by the flexibility not work out. It’s important to maintain stability while working to evolve. The flexibility is supported by the structure.
So, structure and flexibility should go hand-in-hand to work toward improvement. The structure covers the stability, foundation, and support. The flexibility allows for learning, evolving, and advancing.
People should start with the Script before them but be ready, if necessary, to make some edits to allow for improvement. (This idea is also part of The Self 60.)
So how should each the leader and the follower view the Script?
Leader’s View of the Script
It is a leader’s responsibility to help foster the initial version and subsequent iterations of the Script.
It is on the leader to guide the basic Script through his or her resources. It also falls on the leader to make sure that the Script is set throughout the workplace or group, regardless of how far they may be from the front lines.
The leaders of an organization don’t need to have a hands-on approach to the creation and support of the Script, but they need to create an environment which lauds its importance, maintenance, and integrity.
As a leader, the delivery of a vision cannot exist if you haven’t laid out the proper environment to allow for the path forward. All the specifics don’t need to be there; everything is a work-in-progress. But the bones of your vision should be there so that people know where the starting line is.
The starting line is a threshold that can be adjusted, but it is just a starting point. Getting started is the hardest part, but with a leader laying out a starting line, others now know where the estimated borders are of the idea, concept, and direction and what the capabilities are of the tools provided.
No one has to – or should — start from scratch and they should be able to build upward because a leader has already put into place the proper environment and tools to capture new ideas, suggestions, recommendations, and concerns to correct the path forward accordingly.
Do you have a strong foundation? Do you allow for course correction?
How well does the Script of your organization or group read?
Follower’s View of the Script
As a follower, are you sure you have the right tools as a starting point in the organization in which you work? Is the foundation there strong enough to execute the work?
Now, beyond the foundation, what does the Script provide in flexibility above the structure to allow you to customize and experiment just enough to contribute new ideas and opportunities to the organization.
Yes, you can bring opportunities to an organization through your individual approach and knowledge. You have your previous experience from past endeavors which you can use in your current role. Although the technical aspects of the job may be different, there are always some skills which are transferable.
So start with the Script of the organization but don’t strictly adhere to it as that would only forgo your own ability to evolve in, learn fron, and contribute to your organization or group’s mission.
Learn the rules, the players, the systems, the culture, and the limits, and determine where it is you can make the appropriate adjustments.
A follower needs to reconcile what is available in the environment by way of structure and allowed flexibility and determine how that matches up to what they want for themselves and what they want to accomplish.
If it doesn’t reconcile accordingly, both sides lose – the employee cannot be as effective as they would like to be and the organization loses out on the skills and abilities they have inhibited by not providing the right structure that allows for effectiveness and flexibility in the environment.
Structure and flexibility — powerful and pertinent combination.
In some cases, organizations need to refine this combination in their environment to maximize the effectiveness of resources. Others might even be at the point where they need a do-over or to tear up certain parts of that Script; the foundational tools have become obsolete or counter-productive.
If the leader is not outlining a Script or is sticking to an old Script, that’s when things can get stale.
Everyone should be charged with monitoring the foundational tools and Script of the organization while encouraging flexibility and agility to move the mission forward.
So, What About You?
- Whether you’re a leader or a follower, does your environment have a solid foundation? Does it allow for flexibility beyond that foundation?
- How often is the foundation, made up of the tools, culture, and protocols, reviewed to ensure continued relevancy and effectiveness?
- Regardless of your position, what part do you play to make sure both the foundation and the flexibility are present?