I first met Tazim Elkington at Open Qorner, a regular workshop she facilitates. The participants were a variegated set of individuals, contrasting in race and career progression and unified by the topic scribbled in bold black letters on a white board, 'Dealing with difficult people in the workplace.' Instead of offering us a bulleted list of solutions on how to resolve conflict in the workplace - which would be much easier and faster, she asked us to look within ourselves, to peel away the layers of entrenched habits and examine how our learned behaviors influence our relationships with others. Regardless of who wrote the question, it ultimately begins and ends with each individual and their responsibility to Life!
The second time I met Tazim was at her house, where I interviewed her about her unconventional methodologies and why organizations are in dire need of a cultural spring cleaning. These are the highlights of our conversation.
21st Century Leadership Models
In order for a company to create a progressive culture, the CEO/MD/GM of the company has to be invested. The leader has to be progressive for real change to happen. We agree on aspects that need to change and how the company is supposed to work based on how the expectation is dissonant from the company's current situation. Ultimately that requires every employee taking responsibility.
Bosses have a serious authoritative hangover seen in the manner in which they treat their teams. People are hung up on labels about who they are and entitled about how other people will behave where they are concerned. We are operating using outdated models from the 20th century. This is the 21st Century and the MO (modus operandi
) has to change.
The foundation of all my work is based on universal value systems. An example of a universal value is integrity. It doesn't matter which culture, race or religion one is from, thinking and acting honestly is a way of life. Honesty is not compromised regardless of cultural, tribal, religious, racial taboos.
When a trainer gathers a team into a game of tug-of-war as a team building exercise, they achieve nothing because the activity is unrelated to what happens in the workplace. You cannot build a team when the individuals are distorted. Every member of the team has to work on their distortions, to look at themselves in the mirror and do self-work. Therefore team building is no longer effective.
One of the biggest problems facing 95% organisations is communication. People do not respond to emails; they withhold information, or they are afraid to share because they are insecure. Bosses will not respond to their subordinates. Leadership teams will not respond to each other because of negative power play. Most organisations do not have structures in place to allow open communication.
Ultimately, all these distortions affect delivery and performance which inevitably affects profit margins.
How do we define a company culture?
First, we have to define what it is, find the loop holes that prevent it from functioning, and then decide what it needs to be. The next step is to outline all the components that are required for it to function - the attitudes, systems and behavior. That type of change requires real commitment- and how many organisations are prepared to put in that type of investment? Not many. That is why my work is very niche.
And why are they few? Because it takes self-work. It goes beyond team building and office parties. Those things do not change performance and delivery. If we want to be part of the global field, we have to be current. We have to start operating from a point where we are dependable, reliable, we have high performance, and that doesn't mean that we have to work 14 hours a day either.
Progressive culture is not a walk in the park. It's tough. And it's tough because every single person in the organization will have to make changes including the CEO and leadership team. .
What does progressive culture do?
Ultimately, your profit margins will go up. People will be able to communicate openly and honestly. It takes away the sugar coating and bullshit people use when they communicate about what they deliver.
A progressive culture simplifies processes, and people will follow through with their tasks.
The Q factor is grounded in responsible transformation. What I mean by that is, in order to help others, I have to be aware that everything I think, say or do, has an impact on others. Therefore, I cannot operate from a point of my own distortions or biases. My whole life - 30 years conscientiously, has been about confronting my distortions in order to make sure I do not transfer them to others or project them in the work that I do.
Tazim Elkington is Paradigm Shifter, Trainer and Facilitator, Hypnotherapist, Writer, Speaker, Poet and Qreator of the 'Q Factor. Her suite of corporate services includes: Alternative Leadership, Business Re-evaluations, Customized Company Retreats, Sessions for Executives, Workshops and Seminars, Progressive Culture Creation and Organizational Change. Get in touch with Tazim here