The Greek and the Roman armies did not defeat the barbarians by the strength of their numbers. They did so by organizing their troops in winning battle formations. Ancient Indian epic of Mahabharata too refers to the key role played by the battle formations in the win or loss of an army. Military (and business) formations strive to achieve one objective – to create a singular unit from many individuals, behaving like one personality. Good organization does not dissolve individualities but seeks to perfectly synchronize diverse individual personas such that the combination becomes one bigger and more powerful entity. No wonder, organizing is one of the most critical aspects of building any successful mission.
During my executive career, I have witnessed a wide spectrum of organizing tactics – right from the use of fear (of punishment and public admonishment) on one end to the use of open trust-based management-by-objectives on the other. And, all of them can succeed or fail, depending on how you define success and failure. Irrespective of what the organizing tactics might be, it involves controlling the “shakespearean”emotions of the team members and its impact on the organizational behavior. Emotions are horses that drive the chariots of our lives. But, in an organization that needs to be pulled my many horses, one needs to place blinkers on these horses so that all pull in one direction. Controlling individual emotions to create a unison , a unified organizational behavior, is the most critical element in organizing your business – whatever be your management style!
Out of many human emotions, the ones that matter most in a business environment are: Pride, Insecurity, Bias, and Greed. These emtions act like the active chemical agents on a person’s organizational behavioral traits of Integrity, Transparency, Proficiency, and Malleability. This 4×4 Matrix of key emotions and behavioral traits influences the alchemy called organizing.
Over or under prevalence of any of the 4 emotions can result in some of the wheels of your organizational cart spinning at a different speeds than the rest! For example, a team member with a bloated ego will outwardly put up a good show of integrity but that integrity will, at best, be self-serving. On the other hand, a team member with low personal pride too can harm an organization, as such person is not likely to have moral courage to be transparent and outspoken about brewing issues within the organization. A member with high insecurity will never take risks resulting in lost opportunities whereas one with no insecurity may lead the organization into many a accidents due to reckless decisions. A positive bias typically creates undesirable sycophancy while a negative bias rules out any kind of integrity. Malleability is another important behavioral trait necessary to forge a solid organization. Your building blocks should be flexible enough to enable efficient building but obviously, you do not want these building blocks to be “too mushy”! Persons with too low an ego or high insecurity tend to be so mushy that they cannot support any structure while ones with negative biases or high ego are so rigid that they become an overhead for the organization!
It is the leadership’s job to create a well-synchronized unit from diverse personalities by tuning and tempering team-members’ emotions such that the resulting organizational behavior is conducive to growth and prosperity for all. Efficient recruiting, continuous training, 360 degree reviews, exit interviews can all help the leaders in this endeavor. Every corporate leader needs to be vigilant about this 4×4 Organizational Behavior Matrix of [Pride, Insecurity, Bias, and Greed] x [Integrity, Transparency, Proficiency, and Malleability].