“A culture of trust that encourages empowerment and innovation, we provide people with the freedom, flexibility and opportunity to do great things for our company, employees and customers.”
This quote and others similar always accompany a business receiving an award for best work place. The other time you hear this or some version of it is when companies are going through or need to go through a major cultural change.
One of the first construction conferences I presented at, I was having a drink with a few business owners. Some of them I knew while others I had just met. Because I was there, the topic of culture and leadership came up. The owners that I knew had strong cultures and systems in place to keep them that way. But the one gentleman I had just met was using all of the buzz words, but it was extremely obvious that he had no clue what he was talking about. He would say a phrase similar to the one above, then follow it with “My employees are idiots. They don’t know what they are doing and are always screwing everything up.”
The power of listening is amazing. I just listened to him ramble about everyone else’s incompetence. The other owners there tried to offer advice and point out that he was contradicting himself, but he didn’t want to hear it. Eventually, they gave up, but he wasn’t done!
He then aimed his employee badgering at me. I took most of what he said and turned it around into a question for him to answer. The answer to each question focused around accountability and senior leadership. He noticed the trend, but had gone too far down the blaming path to admit he was wrong. The conversation ended pretty quick.