What If We All Owned the Podium

Article / Leadership

What If We All Owned the Podium
Dan Corbett , Management Consultant, Canada

What if we all owned the podium in our organizations and we all shared a gold medal for our collective and collaborative contributions..

In the recent Olympic games we witnessed remarkable performances from many athletes, most of whom achieved a personal best. What struck me is how the focus in the Olympics has moved from achieving personal best to having to be on the podium by winning a medal and not just any medal, but the Gold medal. Success was determined s being on the podium, such that ten one hundreds of a second makes the difference between celebrating achievement with a medal or explaining a loss.

Did you also note the look of disappointment for many who are on the podium but did not get the gold medal, seems as if achieving a silver medal or a bronze is just not good enough. What bothers me is that this type of focus leads to creating a small group of winners and a lot of losers. Hey, all of the athletes who made their Olympic teams deserve to be celebrated as they had to achieve a level of international performance just make their country’s team. Competition is good but not when it becomes an exclusive win lose mentality.

This has me thinking about what it would be like to work in an organization where the only thing that mattered was winning the gold medal, what kind of workplace would that be? What would it be like if there were only three places on the organizational podium and each with a higher rank? On the other hand, think about what it would be like if we all owned the workplace podium, such that personal best is celebrated and it does not matter who wins gold, silver or bronze as we are all on the one team? Is this possible given all the demands on organizational leaders to drive for performance? How different would it be to work in such an organization? What kind of leaders would lead such an organization?

I just read a thought provoking book called “The Art of Possibility” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander where they write about how leaders can reframe how they create innovative and high performing organizations through developing a sense of possibility. Such possibility brings change to the workplace from the collective transformative energy of engaging people who believe in possibility and where the focus is on the power of “we”. In all they list eleven rules for creating possibility to transform an organization.

One of the points in their book says “ A leader does not need a podium; she can be sitting quietly on the edge of any chair, listening passionately and with commitment, fully prepared to take the baton.”

So here is a thought, what if we all owned the podium and we all shared a gold medal for our collective and collaborative contribution- is that possible? What would be the role of leaders, such as you in that organization?

For a summary of the book “The Art of Possibility” see: More on this VIew.

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