"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

What cost good will?

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I was pondering today if it is possible for an employer to buy good will from employees?

This is such a critical commodity – something that I focused most of my leadership effort on in past roles, because I knew that good will in my organization could move mountains. A lack of good will, that “I’ll just show up and do the least amount I can.” attitude, by contrast, can bring an operation to its knees quite quickly.

The simple truth is that good will can be the easiest thing to gain, and the fastest thing to lose. I recall a quote that was mounted on the wall at military college – something about respect having to be earned anew each morning, but it could be lost forever in a single moment. My experience in large, complex organizations performing highly technical work was that people would bring you the moon and more, if they thought you were interested in them and willing to involve them in the process. Sometimes just asking someone’s opinion would make the difference between a revolt or a grudging acceptance of something difficult.

What continues to amaze me is how many organizations (my present one in particular) seem to go out of their way to do the exact opposite. That is, burn good will quickly, as they obviously have no idea of its worth (or even that it exists). Compounded by a lack of honour and courage, it rapidly poisons the workplace and brings everyone down to the lowest level – I’m going to do the minimum, ignore everything (and everyone) and go home at 1620 each day. The lack of courage means that things like difficult policy decisions are sent out by emails, as supervisors have no ability to influence people through leadership.

I realized early in my career as a leader (that is, almost 30 years ago) that the most valuable capital I had with my soldiers was good will. Soldiers would do something if ordered to do it, but would do almost anything happily if there was good will in place. Good will is a personal line of credit each person in the organization extends to a leader that the leader can draw on in times of stress.

Realizing that good will is such a precious commodity marks me even more perplexed when it is casually tossed aside.


Written by sameo416

September 25, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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