Leading Responsible Adults

Talks | Podcasts | Presentations.

May 21, 2022  ·  Brenda Leeuwenberg

Talks | Podcasts | Presentations

Back in the pre-COVID days, when we never imagined the future we now live in, I started to look into workplace culture and how it flowed through an organisation. While much has been written about this from many wiser heads than mine, my perspective was a bit unusual.

It was when I sat in the toilet (as you do) at a large corporate that I was working with, that I noticed the signage was written for 4 year olds. Step by step instructions for how to wipe, wash and behave in this most private moment. And yet this corporate was all about openness, autonomy, treating people like adults. Where was the disconnect from leadership to the messaging in toilets?

I started to source the toilet pictures from other organisations. Rarely did I find a business whose culture reflected all the way to the bathroom.

Why do businesses feel the need to treat us like children in some ways, but expect adult behaviour in others? This too, is not an original thought - Ricardo Semler in 1989 famously said “People are responsible adults at home. Why do we suddenly transform them into adolescents with no freedom when they reach the workplace?

The modern agile principle “Build products around motivated, responsible adults and give them the freedom to learn and succeed” was all about this. What does it mean to be a responsible adult?

Then COVID happened, and the workplace as we knew it changed radically. Workplace toilets really weren’t an issue anymore. But suddenly adulting had a whole new lens.

The impact of remote working on our culture, our workplace structures and values, and on our people, has been huge.

Many organisations put a lot of energy and effort into taking care of their people. An amped up focus on wellbeing, on mental health and on looking out for each other permeated our more onto it workplaces.

But this potentially has come at the expense of autonomy, of independence and responsibility. It’s also come at the expense of the health and wellbeing of many of our leaders.

This talk explores the impact of COVID on workplace culture, through a lens of leadership and being adults.

Based on interviews with executives, leaders and our own experiences I explore trust, wellbeing and communication as tools for the emerging workplace.

Watch on YouTube

Categories: Talks | Podcasts | Presentations.

Tags: Leadership, modern agile, modern agile principles, responsible adults, remote working, workplace culture, hybrid working, autonomy.