Fearless Culture -A Strategy To Create A Culture Of Innovation

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CARING FOR PEOPLE

MUTUAL RESPECT

The first step to care for people is to respect people. Every leader and his employees should believe that people want to do a great job, irrespective of job titles & hierarchies. They also should firmly believe that every other individual in the organization is inherently valuable. So, everyone deserves respect.

“Each person is important & each job is important” -Dave Packard.

RADICAL TRANSPARENCY

Another critical element that would help in building a fearless culture is creating an environment of transparency.

SELF-AWARENESS

As we discussed earlier, a transparent culture has to start with the leader. He/She has to set the tone by being radically open about everything, including his mistakes and weaknesses.

CANDOR

We saw that Radical Transparency inside an organization would bring all critical issues into the open. It will accelerate learning and increase the overall knowledge of the organization.

THE CULTURE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY

It is essential for an employee to feel safe to open up and share his/her opinions, ideas, and knowledge freely. If he/she stays silent, then the organization would lose valuable inputs that would have helped in a company’s growth.

HUMAN’S BEHAVIOR IS UNINTENTIONAL

To begin with, the leader has to realize that many factors play a pivotal role in human behavior -The prenatal environment each person had before birth, their childhood environment, traumas, their genetics, their gene promoters, hormones, neural wiring, and the experiences they had in their life. Before quickly jumping to a conclusion about a person’s behavior, the leader has to take a step back and think that a person’s past and present environment could have played a role in the person’s reaction. This thought process will isolate the behavior from the person. It would help us to have a favorable opinion on an employee, changing the way we interact with the other person.

CREATING AN ECOSYSTEM

It is a fact that the environment plays a critical role in a person’s behavior. So, a leader needs to set safeguards in the workplace environment to avoid people ridiculing or laughing at or punishing or ignoring somebody for their actions and ideas in the workplace environment.

“You only say things about fellow employees you say to their face.” -from Netflix’s Culture Deck.

FREEDOM and RESPONSIBILITY

AUTONOMY -Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, says, “Brilliant people do not like to work at a place where they have tight controls. There is no dignity if there is no autonomy”.

CULTURE OF ADMITTING MISTAKES

If leaders can openly talk about their mistakes, then the workplace environment will become safe for others to open up.

Don’t worry about looking good in other’s eyes -Worry about achieving your goals -Ray Dalio.

A company reporting fewer mistakes means that people are not trying out diverse ideas. It also implies that people are not coming forward to admit their mistakes. It’s not a healthy environment. In that scenario, the company would be wasting an employee’s knowledge and talent.

No mistakes mean no new ideas in the organization.

QUESTIONING CULTURE

Questioning for Knowledge -Create a culture of open-mindedness by encouraging employees to learn by asking questions. Only by asking questions, the person could understand the reasons behind another person’s perspective -it would help him/her to think from other’s shoes. By asking questions, a person could realize how little he/she knows and how much he/she was wrong in conclusions. Questioning presents an opportunity to learn something.

FREEDOM TO EXPERIMENT

In the early 1970s, Intel was nearly a monopoly in manufacturing and supplying memory chips(DRAMs).

REWARD EFFORTS, NOT RESULTS

It is inevitable that some ideas would fail, resulting in losses for the company. For a fearless culture to prevail, the leadership team has to reward the efforts rather than the results.

CRITICIZING FAILURE

Lee Iacocca, Former CEO, Ford advises “When an employee is down or could not meet an objective or upset about his failure, do not be hard on him. If you criticize him, you not only run the risk of hurting him badly, you are taking away his motivation to improve and try again”.

ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

To sustain an innovative culture, leadership should encourage employees to think like entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial mind makes employees fearless. Allow an employee to decide on continuing the new idea if he/she believed in it, even though the leadership team was against it. Empower them to find the resources inside or outside the organization without breaking any crucial practices. Don’t punish them even if the project fails unexpectedly. Encourage passion. It is a way to nurture ideas.

CONCLUSION

Continuous Innovation is essential to build a sustainable business. For that to happen, the organization should have a Fearless Culture. The leader has to lead by example. He/She has to care for people, admit mistakes, give autonomy to people, allow them to question him/her, encourage sharing of bad news, practice candor, support an entrepreneurial spirit, and reward efforts, not results.

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