Bow tie Leadership

Bow Tie

Should you be looking for a symbol of change in your corporate office? Well, look no further than a bow tie! Besides providing the wearer with some upper collar shirt pizzazz, this stylish and fashionable enhancement will set the custodian with a unique and highly noticeable position of business grandeur amongst your fellow work colleagues.

Let’s start with the basics. Firstly, forget your clip on bow tie, seriously, what’s the point! These are OK if you are 3 years old and don’t know any better and probably can’t tie your shoe laces either. However, if you are an adult, it must be a hand tied bow tie. Once you have mastered the tying procedure, a certain sense of personal achievement will have been attained, a skill that the wearer can most definitely list on their CV with pride and accomplishment.

In my office, I recently had the joy of adorning a bow tie for a 6 week period. I decided to wear this fashion statement to personally support a cultural change management program that had been initiated within my organization.

Now besides getting quite a few inquisitive looks from strangers I traveled with on public transport to and from the office (I still think it was bow tie envy), and from those I work with in the office, to me, the bow tie experience was quite profound and enlightening. So, what did I learn from a corporate leadership perspective that can be used in a change management program?

1. People noticed the bow tie (if you want to be a leader, you need to be noticed).

2. You can’t wear the same coloured bow tie each day (a leader needs to tailor the message for co-workers that can be readily understood, it can’t be a general communication).

3. The bow-tie was hand tied (it takes skill and some persistence to be a leader, the process needs to be practiced).

4. Bow-ties don’t suit everyone (some people like to follow…..and wear the traditional long length and rather boring and conservative tie, but then again, we wouldn’t want everyone wearing a bow tie!).

So, next time your organization is thinking of implementing a program of change, may I suggest you go and purchase a hand tied bow tie and start wearing it in the office. Yes, you will be noticed, you will feel different from the masses, but you will be making a fashion statement, and you will be a Leader!

Cultural Transformation to a Tea!

Tea

I’m one of those tea drinkers that likes to have my tea in a long tall and transparent glass. There is something quite magical about observing the tealeaves gradually permeate their colour, taste and odour with the boiling clear water. With time, you will observe the tea colour swirling and leaving a distinctive trail in the water, with additional time, the tealeaves will transform the water into a uniform and translucent colour. The degree of tealeaf permeation, or transformation, can be controlled via the immersion duration time in the water.

Let’s take this analogy into the corporate office with respect to cultural transformation.

Many corporate cultures can be viewed like the glass of clear boiling water. To look externally at the glass, it is homogeneous, quite bland, and the only activity appears to be the vapour trail exuding from the top of the glass as a result of the high temperature (100C). However, unless something happens within the glass, the water will cool and the glass will reach a temperature that coincides with the surrounding room temperature. This is the boring corporate culture that is common in so many organizations today.

The key to cultural transformation is the introduction of a catalyst to initiate and drive change. However, prior to its introduction, the business management team need to identify and agree on what their unique and distinctive organizational culture needs to be? Let’s go back to the tea analogy. How will the business culture be defined? What will be its colour, taste, smell and intensity? How long will the process take to be achieved? What catalyst will be used to initiate and drive the cultural transformation? Will the employees, customers and the market like the final taste?

When tealeaves are added to the boiling water, the permeation can be accelerated via movement of the leaves, or the water itself via a stirring action. In other words, some action needs to occur to progress and maintain the transformation.

So when next you are considering the implementation of your next cultural transformation in your office, or if you are currently in the midst of one right now, may I suggest that you consider the following key elements:

1.A transparent glass enables your employees to see the degree of transformation permeation. Don’t hide the process, make it very visible.
2.Is the water hot? Is the corporate environment at the right temperature for the required cultural transformation?
3.What tea will be introduced into the water? What will be the catalyst that you will use to drive the change? What colour, taste, smell do you want to achieve that defines your corporate culture?
4.When should you introduce a spoon into the glass to stir things up a little? What stirring speed is optimum to achieve the desired effect?

Once the desired tea has been achieved, there is no point everyone just looking at it with admiration, make sure that all those involved in the transformation process drink the tea and provide management with feedback so the tea can be tweaked accordingly to maintain the optimum taste and enjoyment!

Don’t relax once you have obtained the targeted cultural transformation, as just like with tea, the organization’s tastes will change over time. Be prepared to continually experiment; maybe add some lemon, some honey, or another tea flavour to add that additional zest!

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