The walk

The World Economic Forum just ended in Davos, and entrepreneurs may still have doubts. Yet, some of my clients manage to get their game going, and that is pretty reassuring. One, however, seems hesitant: rightfully so, as they are logically watched by their public investors. Moving one way or the other requires precise justifications before being approved. The situation remains uncertain and creates a climate of ambiguity: what to think, what to do, which direction to follow?

Some usually-dormant personality traits get unintentionally teased or exacerbated, and tensions appear. Getting the latest blog post from the remotely-based CEO neither tames nor softens doubts, subjective or not, from employees. The “open-door” policy is a gift to who dares crossing the doorstep: communication goes both ways. The idea of “fostering an environment of collaboration” can only work if and when stakeholders show interest and/or concern in each other. This client of mine asked for my two-cents, and was surprised with my findings.

Claiming at each meeting that “we” (the royal one) work as a team, we are a family, can only go so far if the members are only encouraged to listen and not verbally contribute. Is it all talk? Perhaps. There is obviously a gap between the talk and the actual walk here. One can create as many templates, spreadsheets or guidelines possible, if they are not explained to the end users, and shown how their input matters, it is just pointless. Stretching the thought, a good computer-assisted program can do the job and the “family members” gradually made redundant, or just plainly disregarded as valuable to the process. Algorithms have their limits too. And that is the challenge a head of the family may overlook.

Transparency calls for rules so we can connect together, and the acceptance for all to play the same game. Am I dreaming out loud? Is it that surreal to think that gatekeepers of (a family) guidelines can give some leeway to the other members for them to make a decision? It is not about losing any kind of power, rather it is about sharing knowledge and taking a project, and, who knows, the family as a whole, to another level. There is no loss of control, there is no hiding of information, good and bad, it is about exchanging, like a tennis game: one player can only perform if the one across does it too. There is no Djokovic / Nadal scenario as each partakes in making the other better and better.

It is everything but rocket science: it only asks for taking some honest responsibilities and accepting to hear comments, some pleasant, some less, both ways. Thinking one is accessible does not systematically translate so for the ones around her/him. The hierarchy organisational chart is just that: a chart. Keeping the door open without getting out of the “ivory tower” can only degrade the visitors’ intentions to share. Like respect, it requires some work to earn it, and that alone can be a long walk.

Photo credits: Footsteps – Courtesy of © Art de Voir, Armelle Troussard