In her latest book, Leading with Dignity, author Donna Hicks shared ten elements of dignity that caught my attention. With permission, I would like to share the ten elements which she derived from her research and interviews.
Her book is well-worth the read for anyone interested in leadership. Here are the ten elements from the book answering the question:
What does it look like to treat people with dignity?
Approach people as being neither inferior nor superior to you; give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged; interact without prejudice or bias, accepting that characteristics such as race, religion, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, and disability are at the core of their identities.
Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness, and help; be generous with praise; give credit to others for their contributions, ideas, and experience.
“Praise, like sunlight, helps all things to grow.” -Croft Pentz
When a copy of Leading with Dignity landed on my desk, I was intrigued for a couple reasons. First, the author, Donna Hicks PhD, did not fit the profile of a typical business management book author. Her background is in international conflict resolution—she has, for 25 years—worked in some of the most conflict-ridden areas of the world, including Northern Ireland, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Syria, and the Middle East. What is a conflict resolution specialist doing writing a book about business leadership? I wondered and was excited to learn more. I love learning from non-traditional approaches and a different perspective.
Second, the word “dignity” intrigued me. Dignity can be perceived as a soft, abstract idea. It’s not a standard buzzword in conversations about workplace and company culture. Yet, Hicks says that an understanding of dignity and how to honor it is an essential role to good leadership. In the book, she highlights three components of leading with dignity: what one must know in order to honor dignity and avoid violating it; what one must do to lead with dignity; and how one can create a culture of dignity in any organization, whether corporate, religious, governmental, healthcare, or beyond.
She uses hundreds of interviews, research in psychology, and real-life case studies to illustrate how leaders and managers can better understand dignity and transform their workplaces.
We spoke about her research.
“The most toxic workplaces in which I have consulted are those with unaddressed and unacknowledged dignity violations and the gossip network is alive and functioning well.” -Donna Hicks
What’s your definition of dignity? What does it look like to treat someone with dignity?
My definition of dignity is simple; it is our inherent value and worth. We are all born with it. At the same time, we are born vulnerable to having it injured, just like a physical injury. From my research, I have developed the Ten Elements of Dignity, ten ways to honor it in ourselves and others: Acceptance of Identity–people want to be treated well no matter their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation; recognition—for their hard work and a job well done; safety—make people feel safe both physically and psychologically so they feel free from humiliation; acknowledgment—for the suffering they have endured if treated badly; fairness—to be treated in an even-handed way; inclusion—make people feel a sense of belonging; understanding—don’t rush to judgment; give people a chance to share their perspective; independence—avoid micro-managing; benefit of the doubt—treat people as if they were trustworthy; and accountability—apologize when you have caused someone harm.
“The most exciting breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not occur because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.” -John Naisbitt
What do most people get wrong when thinking about it?
The most common misconception about dignity is that it is the same as respect. Dignity and respect are very different. Dignity is something we are born with—our inherent value and worth. We don’t have to do anything to have dignity. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity, no matter what they do. Respect, on the other hand, has to be earned. If I say I respect someone, she or he has done something special to deserve my admiration. I say to myself, “I want to be like that person. She is a role model for me.”
“The price of greatness is responsibility.” -Winston Churchill
Organizational culture isn’t just a hot topic–it’s an untapped asset and potential liability for all businesses. And yet, for all its potential to make or break, few know how to manage cultures with proficiency. In her newly released book, Culture Your Culture: Innovating Experiences @Work, Karen Jaw-Madson provides the much needed, step-by-step, “how-to” for designing, implementing and sustaining culture. Karen is principal of Co.-Design of Work Experience where she focuses on culture and organizational change.
We recently had the opportunity to ask Karen some of our own questions.
A 2015 survey from Columbia Business School and Duke University found that out of almost 2,000 CEOs and CFOs, 90% said corporate culture was important, but only 15% felt that their culture was where it needed to be.
Would you give a quick synopsis of DOWE? What is it and how does it work?
Design of Work Experience (DOWE) is a concept and methodology that partners employees and their employer to co-create, implement, and sustain culture. DOWE is comprised of four main components: the combination of DESIGN and CHANGE processes enabled by leveraging and building CAPABILITY and ENGAGEMENT throughout. When you dig deeper, the process is further segmented into 5 phases: UNDERSTAND, CREATE & LEARN, DECIDE, PLAN, and IMPLEMENT. All the phases are organized as a series of iterative learning loops, each with its own specific set of activities.
4 Components of DOWE
Is there one of the four components of DOWE that is more difficult than the others?
The difficulty (or ease) with any aspect of the DOWE process would depend on the individual organization–their current strengths and capabilities, as well as their current context. For example, a company used to constant change may find the change process more familiar than one that has not experienced a lot of change. Another may be dealing with apathy, so engagement may be a challenge, and so on and so forth.
One of the most common problems facing organizations, teams, and leaders today is a lack of clarity. Clarity is a critical component of success. We all want it, even crave it, but it often seems elusive.
What is the clarity conundrum? The constant state of change and ever-present chaos in the world today is unprecedented. We are constantly navigating not one world, but multiple worlds simultaneously with the political, societal, social and technological changes that are happening at a more rapid pace than at any time in history. Leaders are forced to make daily decisions in a high-stakes environment that is often entangled with competing needs and priorities where there is not one obvious answer. These decisions have the potential to define their company and determine their ultimate success. We identify these decisions, inflection points or daily puzzles as clarity conundrums. They take many different forms in companies and in the lives of the leader. Clarity conundrums include the need for a new vision/direction, repositioning, a growth imperative, and they often result from a merger, a new leader, an acquisition, a safety issue, crisis, or hitting a plateau or reaching critical juncture point in the organization. What they all have in common is that they require clarity, as a process, to successfully navigate the necessary transition to the desired future state.
“Clarity isn’t an arrival point, a vista, or a destination.” -Brad Deutser
Why do you advocate thinking inside the box? I love it, and it’s counterintuitive from all the advice commonly shared. For much of my early career, I was prized as an out of the box thinker. Clients could rely on me to produce ideas and solutions that were fundamentally different and way outside the mainstream. I was wildly creative – but that creativity did not always align with the desired results. About two decades ago, I began to rethink the box paradigm, and using client results and research began to validate that “inside the box” is actually where real creativity, innovation and performance are birthed. Interestingly, in our early research, we challenged people to define their box. Most people simply accepted the metaphor without assigning definition to it. When we uncovered the parameters of the box and put clear definition to each side, including the top and bottom, we were able to fundamentally change the trajectory of business for our clients and the connectivity of the workforce to the organization and its leadership. Inside the box thinking allows leaders to have a clearly defined organization and direction, and employees to have something that they can understand and belong to. It is a game changer.
A strong productive culture is a superpower behind every long-lasting success. Culture demands artful management and everyday care, which seem to remain a mystery for many. How do you turn corporate culture into a productive force and secure success?
In CORPORATE SUPERPOWER: Cultivating A Winning Culture For Your Business, author Oleg Konovalov discusses what culture is, its functions and roles, why it is important and how to fix it when it goes wrong. The book offers a step-by-step guide on how to manage this incredible asset. Oleg is a management consultant with rich experience of running businesses in different industries and countries. His book is an exceptionally well-done overview of culture and how to turn it into an asset for any organization.
I spoke with Oleg about the book and his findings.
“Culture is a measure of success and a cause of it.” -Oleg Konovalov
Why do you think culture is getting so much attention these days?
We are well into the Knowledge Era, a time for new thinking about people, and appreciate that everyone has a stake in building the future. This is an era of a competition of corporate cultures, not processes.
Culture influences people’s actions, vision, minds, and hearts. In fact, an organization’s culture is its soul, and whoever controls the culture controls the soul and so, organization.
No company can move further than its employees’ competencies, where strategic development is bounded by the development of people. A successful implementation of corporate strategy directly depends on the active involvement and constant improvement of everyone.
Organizational culture is the most crucial ingredient of success, giving life to all of its many processes. Strong culture stimulates the enhancement of productivity by homogenizing the best psychological qualities of employees, the sense of unity and belonging, internal cooperation, and employees’ loyalty. Also, sustainable development depends on an organization’s ability to attract and retain the best people.
“Culture influences people’s actions, vision, minds, and hearts.” -Oleg Konovalov