Leaders are always looking for the magic bullet to differentiate their organization from others and give themselves an edge. Often, they end up chasing the wrong things. In fact, the key to a great organization is pretty simple: they focus on health. This is the opposite of a toxic workplace which is unfortunately more common than we wish.
What are the signs of a healthy organization?
One: They have great clarity about what they are about. There is no ambiguity regarding their mission, their guiding principles, what they need to focus on and what they desire to accomplish. Because of this clarity, the whole organization is on the same page and are moving in the same direction.
Two: They have a candid and trusting culture where there are no elephants (issues that cannot be discussed) and where honest dialogue is valued and expected. Unhealthy organizations shut down candid and robust dialogue as a threat. Healthy organizations encourage and expect it knowing that the only way to better solutions is honesty. This can only happen in a culture of trust which is the ground from which such honest dialogue emerges.
Three: They empower people to make necessary decisions within well defined boundaries. Controlling organizations stifle creativity and are permission withholding cultures. Healthy organizations encourage creativity and empower people as permission granting cultures. Unhealthy organizations control people through rules while healthy organizations empower people through well defined clarity (one above). Healthy organizations trust their staff while unhealthy organizations control their staff.
Four: They treat people with dignity. Great organizations are places people love to work because they value their staff and live that value in all relationships. Every organization says that their people are their most valuable asset but most organizations do not live out their stated value. Treating people with dignity means that staff are trusted, empowered, their opinions valued, failure is not fatal but a learning opportunity, and staff are regularly developed to maximize their potential.
Five: They care about real results. Of course every organization says it cares about results but the truth is that in the ministry world very few actually have ways to measure results which means we are not truly serious! Healthy organizations have great clarity and are focused on living out that clarity for tangible results that they measure and evaluate. Healthy organizations can easily answer the question "How do you measure success?" Can yours?
Six: They constantly develop their staff. Toxic organizations use people while healthy organizations develop and grow people on a regular basis. They create a culture where emotional, relational, spiritual and skill health is both an expectation and something that is constantly growing. Healthy organizations are made up of healthy people so any focus on health must start with staff.
Seven: They are humble. Humble organizations continue to grow because they know they have many areas where they can grow. Proud organizations actually hurt themselves by their pride. They think they have a corner on ministry and are superior to others. Great organizations take a humble posture with humble leaders and staff whose humility allows them to continually evaluate how they can do what they do better. Humility breeds a servant mentality while pride does not.
How does the organization you lead or are a part of compare to these seven indicators of health?