Written by: Janet M. Harvey, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
How do leaders unlock the true potential of their organization? This article explores the concept of generativity and its ability to optimize organizational value. Just as a seed holds within itself the blueprint for a magnificent tree, every organization possesses an inherent capacity for growth, innovation, and positive change. By understanding and embracing the principles of being generative, you can unlock hidden reservoirs of potential and create a thriving ecosystem for the collective success of all. So, let's dive deep into this insightful concept and discover the key elements that can help you fully harness organizational value.
Being particular about how to measure success with any initiative is, for most leaders, what represents the path to generating value in the eyes of others. Leaders always ask me, "How do I demonstrate success consistently to advance in my work and contribution?" They ask because their experience to date suggests it takes work to do. There are three central reasons why measuring success in any initiative is not easy:
Limited awareness about what's occurring with the declared problem.
Poor clarity about the desired outcomes the organization values.
Insufficient alignment among stakeholders who must receive and engage with the solution.
Leaders need more time with colleagues to catalyze new choices as the ones leading an initiative or project. Leaders rarely have time between planned meetings to give attention and follow through. Colleagues make commitments they don't honor, and the consequence falls too often on the leader's shoulders to resolve if they want to succeed. Is this starting to feel daunting? There is another way to relate to this leadership dilemma: be generative. The very best source of solutions already lives inside the workforce; leaders need to look and listen for that original and creative genius their teams' are hungry to contribute.
What is generativity?
Generativity, at its essence, is the belief that our actions and decisions can have a positive and lasting impact on the world around us. It is about adopting a mindset of abundance, where we recognize the limitless possibilities for growth and progress. In organizations, being generative means moving beyond the transactional and short-term thinking that often hinders our ability to cultivate meaningful and sustainable value. It is about nurturing a culture that encourages collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to continuous learning.
Being generative is more than producing new results. It includes learning about how another person produces, how others who are part of your system and initiatives create new options to experiment with, and how a team chooses what generates the best outcomes. Creativity requires divergent thinking for ideation and convergent thinking to learn optimal ideas. When action and behavior are really in flow by being generative, team members stretch continuously to originate fresh ideas, thinking, and experiences while trusting a spirit of "experiment to learn" that leads to choosing, creating, and producing the best path forward.
Learning, creating, and originating are the sources of organizational value any leader and their teams can evoke to up-level the results produced for themselves and others. A classic coaching question, "What do you want?" offers a terrific starting point for measuring success. Add this question, "So, what can happen?" We immediately support team members in moving from an aspirational dream toward ownership. Ownership means behavior and action that demonstrates accepting responsibility to fulfill the goal and using the team's authority to do the work and produce a desired outcome.
A wise person once told me everything in life is a request and a promise. Think about that for a second. I've tried for a long time to think of a situation in which this wasn't true and have yet to find one. As a result, what causes some requests to go unfulfilled and some promises not to deliver the desired outcomes? Not being generative, out loud, transparently with fierce, compassionate honesty is the answer. Only if both parties invest attention, thoughtful focus, curiosity, and relentless pursuit of alignment the measures of success will not only be invisible but that invisibility sabotages producing satisfying results.
Every conversation with a team is an opportunity to incorporate measurement. As they delegate authority for a team to tackle a new problem, leaders do three critical things:
They expand the team's awareness of the background, history, stakeholders, and organizational commitment to the effort.
The leader answers the "why us" questions every team has at the start, and in doing this, the leader clarifies and champions collaboration.
The leader invites dialogue to learn how each team member relates to the objective, allowing each person to declare their alignment that will sustain choices for change.
When leaders diligently ensure that what the team promises to deliver aligns with what the leaders define as the measure of success, the requestor and the promisors achieve the impact wanted.
Four steps to embrace the power of generativity
1. Foster a culture of learning
To unleash organizational value, leaders must deliberately and consistently create an environment that celebrates curiosity and ingrains continuous learning into the organization's very fabric. Encourage team members to seek new knowledge, embrace diverse perspectives, and share their learnings with others. By cultivating a growth mindset, leaders foster an atmosphere of innovation where ideas can flourish and evolve, leading to the emergence of cutting-edge solutions.
2. Cultivate authentic leadership
Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping the organizational culture and setting the tone for generative practices. Authentic leadership inspires trust, promotes collaboration, and encourages individuals to bring their whole selves to work. Lead by example by modeling vulnerability. Leaders who create a safe space for creativity and innovation to thrive empower employees to unleash their full potential.
3. Nurture collaboration
In a generative organization, teams transcend mere cooperation and embrace true collaboration. When individuals from diverse backgrounds come together, magic happens. Encourage cross-functional collaboration, where the team's collective intelligence can combine to produce innovative solutions. By fostering a culture where knowledge-sharing is cherished, ideas become more robust and sustainable.
4. Champion agility in the face of change
Change is inevitable, and the generative organization understands the power of encouraging and rewarding people to embrace change rather than resist it. Leaders who cultivate an agile mindset inspire others to adapt to the ever-evolving demands of the business landscape more quickly. Instead of perceiving change as a threat, team members perceive change as an opportunity for growth and improvement. In doing so, leaders and their teams uncover new possibilities and increase their capacity to create value, even in periods of uncertainty.
Your organization can bloom into an entity of extraordinary value and impact. Embrace the principles of generativity and watch as your organization flourishes and thrives like never before. Embark on this journey with your team members and create a world where organizational success and human flourishing go hand in hand.
Janet M. Harvey, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Janet M. Harvey is CEO of inviteCHANGE, a coaching and human development organization that shapes a world where people love their life’s work. Janet is a visionary leader in the global professional coaching industry with an International Coaching Federation Master Certification. Janet is an accredited educator who has engaged adults, teams, and global enterprises for nearly 30 years to invite change that sustains well-being and excellence. Janet uses her executive and entrepreneurial experience to cultivate leaders in sustainable excellence through Generative Wholeness™, a signature generative coaching and learning process for people and systems. Janet has served as a global board leader for ICF, as a director.