The Big Leadership Picture

by julia.hanigsberg | September 30th, 2014

I recently wrote an article on work-life fit (and what I call the “myth” of work-life balance) as part of the Globe and Mail’s Leadership Lab series. One of the comments on the Globe website struck me particularly. To paraphrase, the individual said he/she had worked for me a few years ago, that I walked the talk about which I had written, but that I had no idea what was going on in the levels of the organization “beneath” mine and I couldn’t possibly appreciate how far from the on the ground reality my aspirations sounded.

I have in fact been thinking of exactly that over the past number of months – although in slightly less stark terms. The question I’ve been ruminating on is how you push Putting People First throughout an organization. How do you move beyond capturing a slogan or a tagline to a real lived experience of every employee (and every student for that matter – although that’s a blog for another day)?

My thinking on this is evolving and I’m seeking advice from people more experienced and knowledgeable than I, but I am particularly fixated on the role of the manager. It is that first level supervisor of people in an organization that make the decisions, exercises the discretion, interprets the policies that have the greatest impact on the most number of employees throughout the organization. That group (and it is a large one – in the dozens at Ryerson) has the greatest impact on the experience, capacity for operational excellence, and emotional and even physical wellness of employees.

If I’m right about this then what do we need to be doing to deeply and effectively enhance the manager’s ability to build our People First culture?

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