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Leadership And Team Dialogue Is The Key To Success!

Written by: Annemieke Hartman Jemmett, 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.


Use “Business Kintsugi”* to maximise trust in uncertain and challenging times; maximising engagement to VALUES whilst minimising FEAR.

It will be no surprise to hear that Millennials want to work for employers committed to values. I am sure that you will agree that organisations with a clear purpose and supporting values are well placed to excel in an everchanging environment regardless of the unexpected “world events” that we are experiencing at this time (pandemic, inflation, gas/electricity shortages, conflict and more).

In the last weeks, I have been catching up with a very diverse group of business leaders. The subject of our conversations has focused on how to ensure that teams and its members “own” the values that they have agreed throughout these challenging times. But it’s not only ownership that is relevant here; engagement with the teams during times of re-alignment and extensive progressive growth are also vital to offer a more challenging dynamic.

This is easiest explained by providing a detailed example which may resonate with many of you. During the last two (2) years – 2020, 2021, many organisations have had to scale down their operations significantly. This was not out of choice, just pure survival necessity. So, in many situations, fewer people are now employed by companies to deliver goods or services in a complex global setting with extremely high result expectations. Yet, at the same time, we see supply chains at breaking point, logistic costs at an all-time high and a workforce requesting a different working dynamic; expressed through “the great resignation”.

During the same period, companies have implemented extensive redundancy programmes, in many cases this has meant that employees during this period have requested, overtly or covertly, a different approach to employee engagement; values based to command and control. This has frequently seen a requirement for a structured leader-led communication strategy which in many cases effectively dealt with the need for both company and its team members to create certainty. Clearly, there are team members who appreciate and thrive in a more structured leadership led approach during this time of uncertainty. You can imagine certain team members coming to you to ask: ‘just tell me what I need to do and I will get it done’ – without question. In these periods of uncertainty, not actively asking for values development and engagement and just adhering to the letter of the values it is acceptable, to ride the wave, as long as once stabilised, the teams revert back to the value led organisation they joined.

Other team members requiring less certainty, see this “command and control” approach as a total confirmation of a breakdown of the trust of the relationship at its core. Team members are waiting to spot the time that the organisation is not congruent throughout. This change from values led engagement to “top-down structure” is a confirmation that it is not genuine in its request for participation; not recognising that this is what is required to “push” through a period of complex dynamics, with the aim to “weather the storm”.

This approach, on occasion, is in direct opposite to the transparency previously experienced through an open culture of values development and employee engagement. Where previously an engaged conversation on the development of values in support of purpose would drive the teams forward, now we are seeing a different challenge. Those companies proud to lead on recruitment driven by behaviour led values linked to a skill set, may have to make difficult choices, recruit on the dominant requirement of skillset over behaviours and fully aligned to the values of the organisation.

From extensive conversations and feedback received, it is clear that organisations will trade off participation in development and engagement of values against a leadership led “top down” structure. Realistically, this is ongoing throughout the organisation’s lifecycle. In all fairness, this is constantly evolving and has been ongoing throughout generations. If we look closely at history, both globally and locally, we will see many examples where organisations strive to be a “values” led business in everything they do, they succeed for some of the time, and then unexpectedly are presented with a dynamic that requires a different approach sometimes for a short period and sometimes for longer.

This highlights that leadership, throughout the ages, is complex and everchanging. By changing focus, throughout the lifecycle, from being values led to a more structured approach cracks will appear. To the untrained eye the cracks are insurmountable and destructive. On closer inspection however, sound leadership is required to let the cracks appear as they allow for dialogue. And guided dialogue is required to bring everybody back together. Explaining throughout the dialogue, that should be open and full of participation, why the choices are made to “ride the wave” and that it is not a choice of one over the other, values vs. “top-down structure” (command and control), but merely a balanced approach of which element needs to take precedence at any given time for the good of the business.

Business leaders are having to make these choices each and every day in the fast changing and dynamic workplace of today. I call it “Business Kintsugi”, in the organisational development and its constant requirement to re-align and stay relevant whilst dealing with complex global dynamics in the supply chain, cracks will appear in the “perfect structure” of a company. Treat the cracks with love and attention, invite dialogue and as a leader be dynamic in your approach and outlook; you are best placed to repair in such a way that culturally as individual members and as a team you shine, in gold, silver, platinum or any other chosen colour; it is the rich tapestry that makes both customer, team member and future hire want to engage.

Business leaders are uniquely placed, and it is their job, to be transparent and provide insight into why they make the decisions they make in line with the values that you have agreed as an entire company to deliver predefined business goals; relevant to the requirements at the time to maximise the company results. Only confident and engaged dialogue will ensure that cracks that appear are quickly repaired creating a rich and diverse history we can all be proud of, and set us up for future success.

*Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage, often in gold; it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object – something to celebrate rather than disguise.

Want to learn more from Annemieke? Connect with her on Linkedin and visit her website.


Annemieke Hartman Jemmett, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Annemieke Hartman Jemmett is a highly experienced and successful business leader focused on delivering measurable Return on Investment (ROI) in areas such as performance improvement, restructuring and turnaround, coaching and "upskilling" of teams, business development and diversification as well as full transformation. Presenting extensive cultural awareness having worked across diverse markets including Europe, USA, India, Russia and Australasia.

In addition to an active executive career, Annemieke also holds various non-executive positions covering diverse industries incl. leadership community, wellness and people development. Throughout her career, she has focused on working in purpose led organisations developing a strong values based culture, which aims on building trust with individuals, teams and customers alike maximising ROI.



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