I’ve started exploring the second phase of work exploring the role and nature of ‘belief’ within Organisations, relating to leadership and engagement. At this stage i am running a series of phases, each of which will prototype a short set of questions in a different part of the landscape. The first set (which i shared recently) was to gather views on whether people believe that ‘belief’ is a thing, if it is fluid, and whether it is important to ‘have’ it. In this second phase, i am starting to look at where, and how, it ‘functions’, and the perils of dysfunction.
All this work in these prototype sessions is small scale and open groups: i will be trying different question formats and collections. Once it’s firmed up, i will take a more structured approach to repeat the surveys within defined and intact groups (specific teams in Organisations etc).
In parallel with that, i aim to carry out some individual and small group interviews gather narrative experiences and definitions. This will also give me the opportunity to explore in a sensitive way the relationship between more traditional views of ‘belief’ as held in religion, relate to more contemporary parallel models of ‘belief’, perhaps as held in celebrity, or culture.
Last week i tested the first of the ‘Function vs Dysfunction’ questions: in the phase 1 questions, we saw clearly that ‘belief’ can be held both in Individual leaders, and in Organisations, but this particular question explores the potential tensions between those two things.
A large majority of people believed that the actions of a leader should be aligned to their words, more so than to the published values of the Organisation.
One could consider this as the difference between ‘internally coherent’ (where actions align to words) and ‘externally coherent’ (where actions match published aims, but not necessarily internal beliefs).
That we celebrate internal coherence is no surprise, as this is really a definition of authenticity (which we saw in the Landscape of Trust research is deemed a central desirable trait of leadership. Authenticity is about action matching words, so that is what we deem important. But this leaves us with a gap: how actions align to published Organisational goals.
I will explore this tension further in subsequent questions.