“Take it as a given that Spirit is the most critical element of any organisation. With Spirit of the appropriate quantity, quality, and direction, almost anything is possible. Without Spirit, the simplest task becomes a monumental obstacle” – Harrison Owen.
It’s interesting seeing people on a Friday evening at the end of a working week. Everyone appears happy, relaxed, bubbly, and friendly. All have a ready smile on their faces as they exit the workplace and head to the pub for a drink and some good banter! You inevitably find yourself saying of another employee you probably spoke to for the first time:”He’s actually a very nice and interesting guy, why haven’t I spoken to him earlier?”
I bumped into John, a fellow work colleague in the office corridors last week Friday, and we began talking about this very same experience narrated above. I found myself asking the following questions: Why is that we appear to have more Soul outside the workplace and not whilst in it? What is it about the workplace that appears to make us drop our Soul outside it, thus becoming Soul-less whilst in it??
As a result of our conversations, John kindly gave me a chapter of a very interested book to read entitled “Leadership Plain and Simple” by Steve Radcliffe. Indeed, I recommended it to you, it’s a great book. Radcliffe points out, rather simply, that the reason why people do not feel themselves in the workplace; are not proactively committed to each other, and do not demonstrate empathy, is because we tend to use the wrong ‘energy’ source. This prevents us from being ourselves, and ensures we do not take time to recognise others – hence the comment: “He is actually a really nice interesting guy, why haven’t I spoken to him earlier?…”
Radcliffe says that the human person has 4 energies
- The Physical – that which energises movement and general physicality – walking to a meeting room, for example.
- The Intellectual – the energy of the intelligence through which we understand strategy, process, and come up with solutions – writing a recruitment procedure document, or explaining a new idea to your team
- The Emotional – the energy that goes beyond the rational and engages the emotions and sensitivities and influences positive behaviours and attitudes
- The Spirit or Soul – the energy or the immaterial ‘glue’ that holds everything together – like team spirit, for example
It seems to me that in the workplace, many of us tend to operate from the first two levels, with a disregard or even a degree of conscious disdain or even embarrassment to acknowledge the emotional and spirit energies. Indeed, this ‘distinction’, a forced one I suggest, reminds me of the philosophy of Rene Descartes, a 17th century philosopher, who in trying to understand what the human being was actually made of, concluded that he was essentially a ‘thinking thing’– a pure intellect, not necessarily connected with his/her body and its associations. Descartes’ controversial thinking came to be called the Cartesian distinctions and prompted a revolution in the understanding of society and state in the then enlightenment period.
Personally, I think we have become modern day Cartesians in the workplace. It is as though, at least subconsciously, we have deprived ourselves of our ‘personality’ in the workplace and focus, robotically on ‘the job’ in hand. Where is our Soul or Spirit in what we do? What have we done with it? Where is that Friday evening flare or Spirit that erupts toward the end of the working week – but is conspicuously absent at the beginning and middle of the week?
We must remind ourselves: we are human beings first and foremost, professionals/workers thereafter – not the other way round. Being human means that we ought to care about each other’s welfare and well-being. That we seek to ensure, as much as we can, that each person is happy in what they do professionally. That we show empathy and understanding. That we reach out with a ready smile. That we love…
For me, this is not something to be ashamed of. Indeed, it is not something to be demonstrated outside the workplace! – for this is what is needed in the workplace as it is precisely this, this ‘glue’ that brings the Spirit (or Soul) back into the organisational ‘team’. ‘Team spirit’ suggests something dynamic, collaborative, energizing – such that it stimulates all aspects of the human person – in the individual team and indeed the individual organisation, which is to be viewed itself as an ‘assembly of teams’.
Let me round this off with a short story:
I was at a conference last week and whilst networking, I spoke with a Manager who worked for an Engineering firm. He mentioned about the need to effectively sell the ‘business case for diversity’, without which he thought he’d be unable to secure buy-in. I responded: “Have you tried selling the ‘emotional’ business case first?” He looked at me, appearing initially confused and at the same time wondering what the hell I was on about. He took his time to respond, but held his gaze. I could literally see his brain processing his thoughts. He finally responded: “You know, I think I understand what you are trying to say but wish we could have more emotion where I work”
Why do some organisations lack Soul? – Because we leave it at the front door of the workplace only to pick it up when we’re leaving. Taking personal responsibility for promoting positive behaviours and attitudes that help re-build the ‘organisational glue’, thereby putting Soul-ful-ness back into the workplace – is everyone’s responsibility – and is at the heart of inclusivity and…diversity.
Due to changing circumstances in the workplace, I am now on the market seeking a new career challenge in the UK and/or Sydney. To discuss, propose or to simply advise of suggestions regarding potential opportunities of interest, please do not hesitate to kindly get in touch.