Spirit in Practice
Most organisations and communities long for there to be a real and alive spirit among their people. A sense of life, energy and commitment to creating something wonderful – be it a product, service or village community centre.
- How do you release and nurture that sense of spirit?
- How do you remove the stifling controls of bureaucracy while ensuring an appropriate structure and feedback systems?
You do this by:
- Acknowledging the spiritual aspects of ourselves as human beings
- Using ways of working which provide appropriate structure and controls while nurturing creativity and freedom within them.
In long-term cultural change work and briefer encounters such as awaydays, it’s possible to give people a viceral experience of what it means to work with spirit and appropriate structure. Something beyond an intellectual idea and on it’s way to being a natural part of daily life. Everyone knows there is another way: so when business as usual is not working, it can be challenged – again and again.
Acknowledging the spiritual
Today, many, many of us are not only willing to acknowledge our spiritual selves, but to claim that aspect of our whole humanity – rather than leaving portions of ourselves at the office door.
Respected leaders talk openly of the spiritual aspects of their life in organisations – senior executive officers of Hewlett Packard, Korn/Ferry International and Charles Schwabb among many others. Significant initiatives look at the importance and impact of love inside business (for instance the UK Institute of Directors Hub initiative).
And why do organisations welcome this? Because here lies a doorway to the spirit that is so prized: a critical ingredient in the mix of an inspired organisation. The kind of spirit that generates genuinely effective relationships, creates breakthrough innovation, products and services, and continually generates new ways or working to deliver the vision.
Just as the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) is now understood, so is there a growing realisation of the role played by spiritual intelligence (SQ). It is illogical to ignore key resources in the people we are paying, living with and enjoying in our organisations. In Wikima we make sure the whole person is able to contribute (see Our Promise).
Accessing the spirit
Daily, Wikima people and their partners use a range of practices which enhance individual and group ability to access their emotional and spiritual intelligence.
Romy Shovelton has trained for more than 12 years in models and technologies which collectively support literally millions of people around the world in their personal and professional growth.
To help individuals, organisations and communities access this knowledge, Wikima synthesise the essence of the many approaches while retaining the purity of their original power. We are proud to work with the originators of many critical pathways. Please see Practices for a brief introduction to some of these, with references to follow for more information.
Putting spirit into practice
The framework that we use to hold the bulk of our understanding, is a body of knowledge known as Earth Wisdom, held by EHAMA Institute.
This is ancient, traditional information for understanding how humans tick – accompanied by accessible tools for living full and balanced lives – individually and together. Tried and tested over literally thousands of years in the lab’ of human interaction throughout the world, the impact and influence can be seen in many contemporary methodologies.
Following a two-year intensive training, Romy Shovelton is authorised to take the power of this original work into organisations and communities. It is both profound and highly practical in underpinning how best to create effective relationship and community.
Often combined with large-group working, the EHAMA teachings are extremely popular and make sense of spirit for many people. Sometimes the origin of the work is mentioned, sometimes not.
Tools used with organisations as varied as Daimler Chrysler, the Royal Society of Arts, the West Yorkshire Police and a major secondary school, include:
- Wisdom Council: enables a group of people (eg. organisation or community) to pool their collective wisdom on an issue of concern, seeing what’s needed from eight balanced perspectives, and to agree a plan of action.
- Key Words: provide a flexible stimulus for a ‘whole picture’ reflection on a concern, action required or activity already undertaken. A powerful review or evaluation tool.
- Ring of Power: a personal leadership tool, for rapidly tuning you in to your own ability to choose how best to move forward.
- Tslagi: an ancient Cherokee dance of balance, alignment and prayer. Looking somewhat like Tai Chi, the Tslagi is a fabulous way of awakening and stretching the body, mind and spirit, ready for the day, or time to come.
Providing appropriate structure
While the shortcomings of ‘command and control’ have been acknowledged for many years, often such structures and styles effectively remain in place by default. Commonly what’s needed, is an understanding of some practical operational alternatives, with a profound recognition of the nature of leadership that’s needed.
In Wikima, we use a range of participative and interactive models of business process. These give an actual experience of structures with freedom and control balanced for the needs in hand. Large numbers of people (either the whole organisation or a representative section of that whole system) experience distributed leadership in practice: they each have choice and responsibility within their relevant skill-set, knowledge and sphere of influence.
By the way, there are a number of common myths about what happens when you have a more participative way of working:
“It’s like turning the asylum over to the inmates” (what an interesting expression!)
- Actually you do still have controls, feedback mechanisms and strong decision making: now they are set in ways that are likely to motivate the behaviour wanted, rather than work-arounds and apparent compliance.
- The board, CEO and senior managers all still have their responsibilities. The leader of the council or mayor, plus the other elected members and the officers, still make key decisions and the buck does stop here. And…. there is now much greater clarity about what are genuine ‘givens’ and where there is freedom of action for leaders and others.
“People are irresponsible and will ask for the moon”
- In the hundreds of programmes and events that we have run, it is our experience that, in practice, people treated responsibly, act responsibly. Given the right information, it is extremely rare for groups of employees or community residents to make unreasonable demands or deliver up impossible wish lists.
- Just as with subsidiarity… the most effective decision making is that which is devolved to the right level – so those closest to the coal face take the decisions within their sphere of understanding, while those with a central remit may have a collective picture to enable other strategic choices.
There are two principles:
- Help as many people as possible to see, touch and know the whole picture – providing the information that’s needed for decision making.
- Involve as many people as possible in working together to make the key decisions eg. visioning the future of the organisation or community; creating a strategy to reach that vision; establishing the best ways to implement the strategy.
For further information on how it’s possible to provide appropriate structure, please see Large Scale Events.
Spirit also plays a key role in culture alignment – fitting the internal organisation compass to the external desired direction, reputation and brand, plus the essentials of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).
The nature of leadership is probably the most critical factor in enabling a truly inspired organisation or community. For some ideas and support please see Balanced Leadership.
For further thinking on the relevance of spirit to organisations and communities, your might like to take a look at:
Spirit in Business www.spiritinbusiness.co.uk We greatly admire the work of our colleagues in SiB, as they build a network of inspiring business leaders and performers who are consciously operating from their “internal compasses and guiding values”
Harrison Owen www.ho-image.com In his book The Spirit of Leadership – Liberating the Leader in Each of Us, Harrison demonstrates the relationship between spirit, structure and leadership and offers practical steps.
The Berkana Institute
From the Four Directions: People Everywhere Leading the Way, and other initiatives.
Discover the Work You Were Born to Do.