Lisagor: Avoiding management malaise

Negative emotions can drag down any organization that lacks good leadership

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

— Andrew Carnegie

Some of the organizations I work with have been showing definite signs of management malaise. Local government executives and politicians are at each other’s throats, the president of a technology company can’t get his board to cooperate, and the local barista refuses to add whipped cream to my Caffè Americano. 

I am  an organizational optimist by profession, but my advice that every person can make a difference too often falls on deaf ears, especially in groups that have stopped growing at the top. Most midlevel managers are perceptive enough to recognize when their executives are working at cross-purposes or to no purpose at all.

A long-term solution to this type of organizational burnout requires a higher degree of teamwork.

Eastern philosophers talk about the concept of “many in body, one in mind.” That perspective recognizes that although we all have different appearances, abilities and personalities, we must work together to make meaningful progress.

Being one in mind doesn’t mean we don’t think independently. It means we should share a common purpose. When this happens, we can achieve something truly outstanding and accomplish things that we cannot when we work in isolation.

Negative emotions such as anger and resentment result in self-centered actions that keep teams from functioning well. However, we can often overcome our differences by focusing our energies on developing a successful system or on satisfying our constituents. Otherwise, the things that separate us will prevent us from realizing our collective goals.

Certainly such unity is easier to achieve  in moments of great crisis. Extreme external challenges,  such as natural disasters or acts of mayhem, cause us to band together for a common purpose in ways that elude us when we’re not being tested.

Yet it is the responsibility of enlightened leaders to inspire employees day in and day out as people carry out their responsibilities for the routine operations of government and industry.

Here are a few steps people can take each day to foster teamwork:
  • Make efforts to retain or regain your enthusiasm. There is no progress without hope.
  • Look for ways to work with your peers.
  • Don’t expect perfection from others and don’t hold grudges.
  • Relinquish the “my way or the highway” attitude. Too many leaders get stuck on their own agendas and their own ways of doing things.
  • Make the effort to find win/win solutions.
  • Don’t let personal objectives sabotage the organization or interfere with other people’s happiness.
  • Let’s work harder to find common ground. The alternative isn’t  pretty.
Lisagor founded Celerity Works in 1999 to help executives accelerate and manage business growth. He lives on Bainbridge Island, Wash., and can be reached at lisagor@celerityworks.com.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group