Bring your heart, not your ego, to work
Before business actions manifest on the outside, they brew on the inside. Curating one’s inner attitude towards co-workers triggers new possibilities for their relationships to evolve. The stronger the relationships, the more help one can give to and receive from their team in attaining individual and shared goals.
Conversely, without a solid relationship stemming from curated inner attitudes, there is a blackout in productivity. At best, talking to teammates is like speaking to a wall that won’t listen. At worst, organizational communication is a constant political power play with dishonest people maneuvering by stepping on each other.
Organizations that are able to discuss self-deception still face collaboration obstacles but spend less time and energy on solving them. Their teamwork efficiency comes from the ability to communicate straight to the point without causing hard feelings. And even hard feelings stop being a problem once leaders know how to move people past them, preventing them from growing into a divisive conflict. Overall, resolving off-grids faster means spending fewer resources on politics, and investing more time, energy, attention and money on value-adding activities.
Internal attitudes penetrate external behavior
Internal attitude is how one feels about others and how one perceives them. The two polar internal attitudes people find ourselves in are off-grid and in the heart.
Everything one does or says (their behaviors) can be done or said either from the heart or from off-grid. One can’t hide this. Inner attitude is felt in the air and in the aftertaste, whether good or bad, of all of one’s actions. This aftertaste lingers long after the interaction has passed. In this way, one’s inner attitude influences how others will feel, perceive and behave towards that person in the future.
Being off-grid refers to the metaphor of a person being disconnected from the team’s power grid network. Whereas thoughts and actions from the heart build connections, off-grid separates. It draws a neat line around a person and enacts one of two main strategies – to put oneself above all others or below all others.
When one is off-grid, one sees others just as objects, unable to recognize the needs of others, their dreams, goals, and desires. One might use others as a vehicle, to achieve one’s objective, or see them as obstacles in their path towards their goals. In an extreme case of disconnection, one sees others as irrelevant.
BEING IN THE HEART
Being in the heart is the natural human state of being. When in the heart, one is aware of one’s own actions, goals, desires and fears - as well as those of others. This doesn't necessarily mean that one agrees with the goals and desires of others. It only means that their goals are taken just as seriously, deemed as important as one’s own.
Being in the heart is a progress-inducing state because one is open to insights, ideas from others, and therefore perceives others as portals to solutions (rather than as obstacles). Therefore, no convincing is needed for one to be incentivized to create connections, build bridges, and respect others as people firstly. A team working in the heart is able to focus on common goals and co-creations instead of judging differences or competing.
What honestly happens before things go south
In every situation one has a choice: to honor the impulse of their heart. Or to betray it. When one betrays it and acts contrary to what one feels one should do for that person, one goes off-grid. (For example: our first impulse is to help a co-worker with his project, but we refrain from doing so, thinking of our own interests only.)
This inner betrayal only gets compounded when one starts justifying these choices. They search for reasons why they chose betrayal – and as a result, twist their worldview so that it justifies their behavior. (For example: they tell themselves, “That person wouldn’t do the same for me,” or “I’m in a hurry,’”etc.).
KNOWING YOUR LIGHTNING BOLTS
The key to preventing off-grids is learning about them. When one is off-grid one typically has a prevailing style of justification: blaming, over-analyzing, labeling others, exaggerating, withdrawing or fighting for one’s rights (because “I deserve it!”).
These are like lightning bolts before the storm. Knowing exactly what one’s prevailing lightning bolts are helps one to recognize that they are off-grid. That recognition is the first step back to the heart. Watching out for lightning bolts is advanced yet fundamental business hygiene.
Why maintaining “in-the-heart hygiene” saves so much money and time
Most often, people in the off-grid state do not want to be alone in their misery. They actively seek out a tribe of others to affirm their own hurt. This “tribe” is called the Ego Band: individuals who band together to not only soothe their own hurt ego, but also to add fuel to their fire. Thus, perfect conditions arise for the biggest chunk of creative energy in enterprises to get wasted on fighting “enemy” co-workers. Bottom-line, who pays for these political battlegrounds? And with internal-facing teams, who is deprived of the most value?
Seeing through this trap is low-hanging fruit for senior business people. The negative effect of off-grids on overall organizational efficiency is portrayed clearly by mutually hostile political parties. When one is off-grid, one tries to represent oneself in a certain way (victim, rescuer, etc.). One identifies with this role and then tries to preserve that image. The problem is: one cannot focus on preserving this image AND finding a solution for the situation at the same time.
What can leaders do?
Reality is so unpredictable that the goal cannot be for conflicts never to occur. Being off-grid free as an organization is not about whether someone goes off-grid or not. It is about how willing individuals are to admit that they are off-grid and go back into the heart. This “organizational cancer” has so far been extremely resilient to any cure because people in off-grid are smarter than they appear to be. While trying to mask it on the surface or even to themselves, the truth is that people are aware of their off-grid state and they choose to do nothing about it. They are okay with it.
The key here is having leaders who aren’t okay with it.
With a simple choice that leaders have the power to make, the relationship dynamics across the entire enterprise can change. That choice is: stop tolerating off-grids.
Leaders are the ones who set the standards - to first start talking about off-grids and to find ways to resolve conflicts that refocus on building the foundations for a collaborative environment.