Sensible organizational behavior

May 15, 2009

Do you highlight or underline a book when you read? I often do. I highlight things that jump out at me or for whatever reasons really make an impression on me.

I find it fascinating to look back through a book I read years ago and see what I highlighted (ok, I am a nerd). It can be easy to forget how we got where we are, how we became who we are.

I’ve been thumbing through some of the old books on my shelf recently, by gurus like W. Edwards Deming, Peter Drucker and Charles Handy. The “old” stuff they wrote 20 years ago is still contemporary today. It is a testament to how forward thinking these folks were.

I’m going to share more nuggets from their works in the future, but I have to get this quote from Handy’s The Age of Pardox in my blog now because it is so simple yet so powerful.

A common cause, the willingness to deny oneself in the interests of that common cause, and trust that the other party will do the same – these are the essentials of sensible organizational behavior (p. 120).

The concepts of purpose and trust resonate with me as strongly as any other at this point in my thinking about organizational behavior. “Why is this important?” and “What are your intentions toward me?” are two of the most basic questions a leader must address to those she/he has been given the privilege to lead. I’m very grateful to credit Charles Handy for helping to shape my heart and mind on these issues.

Handy tells a great parable about change called The Road to Davey’s Bar. Stay tuned for that one.

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