“Nowhere does this tendency toward artificial harmony show itself more than in mission-driven nonprofit organizations, most notably churches. People who work in those organizations tend to have a misguided idea that they cannot be frustrated or disagreeable with one another. What they’re doing is confusing being nice with being kind."
- Patrick Lencioni
We work with a lot of high integrity and faith-based business leaders. I would lump them in along with the missional nonprofit organizations in their tendency toward artificial harmony. Lencioni says that there is a conflict continuum that extends from artificial harmony over to mean personal attacks.
When we work with organizations, we ask their team members where they believe they are on that continuum. More often than not, due to the nature of clients we work with, they land firmly on the side of artificial harmony. That is way healthier than mean-spirited attacks, right?
Both are equally unhealthy and unproductive when it comes to solving problems and advancing an organization. One is a little nicer and possibly less scary, but the stifling of change that each produces is very similar.
This is a learned cultural bias that obviously is dictated from the top of an organization, but is often rooted in family and faith systems. It shouldn’t surprise you that if organizational health is the greatest determinant of long term success, this is one of the things we go after solving at the earliest phase of engagement with clients.
Turns out, it can show up in the culture of a country. The conflict continuum tilted way toward the right in our last political election. It was mean and nasty. The equally divided country was so resolved and convicted about their dissenting opinions that the response to the polls and the final results were incredulity and shock.
Whether it is in a family, a company, or a country, artificial harmony and mean-spirited attacks result in the same things:
Loss of hope.
And ultimately, these things result in an inability to solve issues and move forward.
We were created to be the ambassadors of the One Great Hope, the reflectors of the Light of the World. Restoration is our intellectual property. These may feel like desperate times and that the light might be flickering, but the truth is that this light hasn’t dimmed. In fact, compared to the despair of the world, it appears even brighter than ever.
I haven’t completely thrown in the towel on the direction of things in our country changing, but I am increasingly clear on the role I am called to play. I am spending all of my vocational bandwidth (heck, pretty much all my time) trying to restore the nobility of leadership, encourage organizational health, and heal this land… one family, organization, or business at a time.
- Is your organization healthy? Your family?
- Are you overwhelmed or discouraged about the direction of things in our country? Are you motivated to change things?
- Are you ready to go to work on the things that you have right in front of you…the things you have ability and responsibility to change?