14 Slices
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13 Create Opportunity from Crisis

Jane E. Dutton Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Lynn Perry Wooten and Erika Hayes James

Business crises almost daily dominate the headlines, hitting the information superhighway at warp speed. Reputations are damaged, devastating both small, local companies and international conglomerates. The examples are everywhere. BP and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Toyota’s “sticky” gas pedal recall. The Livestrong Foundation and cyclist Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal. The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch stating he was marketing only to “cool kids,” and not the overweight ones. The Carnival Cruise ship stuck for days without electricity in the Gulf of Mexico. The employees of Specialty Medical Supplies kidnapping their own CEO over plans to take their jobs offshore.

The Institute for Crisis Management defines a business crisis as “any problem or disruption that triggers negative stakeholder reaction that could impact the organization’s financial strength and ability to do what it does.”1 Crises are rare and significant events, challenging leaders beyond a typical “problem” because of the time pressure and the associated public scrutiny. Additional challenges for the crisis leader come from inadequate information for decision making and, in the worst cases, limited resources, including time, money, and know-how. No matter what causes a crisis—human error, natural disaster, or controversial practices—those in leadership positions are responsible for preventing, assessing, mitigating, reacting to, resolving, and learning from a crisis. Of course, those things are hard to do in the face of sudden, urgent, and unpredictable circumstances. Regrettably, the latter step, learning from crisis, is something many leaders skip altogether.

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10 Cultivate Hope: Found, Not Lost

Jane E. Dutton Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Oana Branzei

Hope is a common, mundane experience, a deep belief that people and situations can and will change—for the better. Everyone hopes, some of the time. However, the consistent and persistent cultivation of hope is a virtuous and noteworthy undertaking.1 At full strength hope can be heroic, even transformational. As President Obama explained, hope is “imagining and then fighting for and struggling for and sometimes dying for what didn’t seem possible before.”2

As a way of seeing, feeling, and being, hope has fundamentally changed the course of human history. Hope has been practiced over space and time, called forth by political leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, preached by religious leaders like Mother Theresa and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and harnessed into thriving organizations by modern-day business leaders like Virgin founder Richard Branson or Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus.3 Once they believed that a better future was forthcoming, these leaders actively searched for human potentiality and acted repeatedly and persistently to promote human betterment, even in the midst of adversity.

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1 Build High-Quality Connections

Jane E. Dutton Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Jane E. Dutton

Think of the last time an interaction at work literally lit you up. Before the interaction, you may have felt depleted, tired, or simply neutral. After the interaction, even if it was brief, you had greater energy and capability for action. This sense of heightened energy is real, and it is an important indicator that you are engaged in a high-quality connection (HQC). Other signs include a sense of mutuality and positive regard. In HQCs, people feel attuned to one another and experience a sense of worth and value. HQCs are critical building blocks for bringing out the best in people and organizations. The seed for this chapter is that leaders can bring out the best in themselves and others by building more high-quality connections at work. They also can design and implement practices, structures, and cultures fostering high-quality connection building throughout the organization and beyond.

High-quality connections contribute to individual flourishing and to team and organizational effectiveness. These forms of connecting call forth positive emotions that are literally life-giving. Barbara Fredrickson, who studies the power of positive emotions in connection, suggests these moments of connection start people on an upward spiral of growth and fulfillment.1 For leaders, tapping into the power of high-quality connections means taking seriously the evidence that this form of person-to-person interrelating is at the root of critical individual and collective capabilities. The following are just some of the benefits of high-quality connections:

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4 Enable Thriving at Work

Jane E. Dutton Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Gretchen M. Spreitzer and Christine Porath

Reflect on a time when you felt most alive at work. What were you doing? Why does the experience stand out? More than likely, it was an experience marked not only by vitality but also by learning and growth—what we term “thriving at work.” People experience growth and momentum marked by a sense of vitality while thriving at work; it is literally a feeling of energy, passion, and excitement—a spark.1 In this chapter, we draw on the growing body of evidence to demonstrate why individuals and organizations should care about thriving. We also highlight strategies for individuals and leaders to enable more thriving at work.

Organizations seek thriving employees. They report less burnout,2 because the way in which they work generates, rather than depletes, resources.3 In a thriving state, people exhibit better health, including fewer days of missed work and fewer visits to the doctor.4 When people are thriving at work, they report more job satisfaction and organizational commitment.5 Thriving individuals are apt to have a learning orientation—experimenting with new ideas to propel their own learning. Thriving employees take initiative in developing their careers. Their supervisors rate them as high performers. And thriving employees exhibit more innovative work behavior, generating creative ideas, championing new ideas, and seeking out new ways of working.

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9 Imbue the Organization with a Higher Purpose

Jane E. Dutton Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Robert E. Quinn and Anjan V. Thakor

Many organizations perform below their potential. They are composed of self-interested people playing zero-sum games, pursuing external rewards, engaging in conflicts, and living in alienated relationships. Yet it is possible for those same people to willingly pursue the common good, to value intrinsic rewards, and to live in trust and experience high collaboration. This transformation occurs when a leader helps to imbue the organization with a higher purpose. Yet few executives understand how to do so. In this chapter we explain the barriers that block them from imbuing their organizations with a higher purpose, and we offer three strategies to help you do so.

So what is a higher purpose, and why is it important? According to modern microeconomics, managers running organizations seek to solve the “principal-agent problem.”1 This problem occurs when a manager (principal) seeks to motivate an employee (agent) to work hard in the best interests of the manager.

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