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'Strategy Follows People' - How to Keep Both of Them

Marco Túlio Moraes on the Kind of Leadership That Retains Talent and Strategy
'Strategy Follows People' - How to Keep Both of Them
Marco Túlio Moraes, CISO, OITI, and executive member of the CyberEdBoard

"Strategy follows people; the right person leads to the right strategy."
– Jack Welch, American business executive

In the book "Reinventing the Organization: How Companies Can Deliver Radically Greater Value in Fast-Changing Markets," authors Arthur Yeung and Dave Ulrich say that Jack Welch believed that if he "could put the right leader with the right skills in the right business role, the right strategy would naturally follow."

See Also: IDC Whitepaper I Business Value of Dell VxRail HCI

People Make Strategy

In an organization, people are the ones who develop and sustain organizational strategy. That's why having the right people - and holding onto them - is important.

While many leaders generate a friendly culture in their teams, some generate a toxic environment. And talented people are discovering that it's possible to leave that environment so they can breathe and thrive.

That leads us to the old saying:

"People leave managers, not companies."
– British business consultant Marcus Buckingham

I've always wondered if that is 100% correct. Many business environments have "challenging" organizational practices that can lead to toxic environments, so toxic leadership is really just one of the symptoms of an organization in decline.

Company Culture

Companies in which this model perpetuates have a low level of employee engagement - 20% - compared to 73% in organizations with the best management practices, according to the consultancy Gallup in its State of the Global Workplace 2021 Report.

But organizations that suffer from this problem and that are important to the ecosystem need to reinvent themselves. Former McKinsey consultant Frédéric Laloux, in his influential book "Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness," describes this challenge very well:

"Can we create organizations free of the pathologies that show up all too often in the workplace? Free of politics, bureaucracy, and infighting; free of stress and burnout; free of resignation, resentment, and apathy; … Is it possible to reinvent organizations, to devise a new model that makes work productive, fulfilling, and meaningful?"

To understand the problem, you need to look at the organization itself and analyze what is not working. And to do that, you first must accept that there is a problem.

Laloux, in his research, presents some models that reflect the evolution of society and organizations over time. The characteristics of each model are different in terms of the exercise of power and organizational values and culture.

Laloux Culture Model (Source: Maggie Sun)

The color coding for the different stages of organizational development in the model is explained at The Reinventing Organizations Map.

Stages of Organizational Development

Development starts in the impulsive (red) stage, passes through the conformist (amber), achiever (orange) and pluralist (green) stages, and ends in the evolutionary (teal) stage .

The first stage includes the exercise of centralized and authoritarian power, which evolves into the hierarchies with formal roles and processes seen in large organizations and then a stage of greater empowerment and autonomy, as in most digital companies and startups. The evolution culminates in a decentralized and nonhierarchical self-management model.

Your employees are aware of the different models and practices that make the most sense for them. And they will leave if your model doesn't suit them.

Professionals have already discovered that it is possible to be successful and fulfilled at work but most companies, unfortunately, have not.

In the rush to fight for business survival in the face of the new economy, companies focus on business strategy and forget that strategy is made and supported by people - and those people have beliefs, values and expectations that change over time. When an organization does not change, frustration takes over, and talents leave. And so does the strategy.

Speak to Your People

Remember that people make the strategy.

To retain them, you have to understand what is wrong at its core and not just treat the symptoms. So, if your organization is suffering from a loss of talent, speak to people.

If you are concerned about the topic, speak to people.

And if you think everything is OK, speak to people.

It is the role of leadership to understand and react. One of the ways to do that is perhaps the simplest possible: the conversation or chat.

Talking to people and genuinely caring about them is a starting point for understanding their perspectives and rethinking what to do.

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Marco Túlio Moraes is the CISO at OITI. He has 20 years of experience in technology, risks and infosec, with over nine years of international experience, in the financial, tech, health and retail/marketplace industries and in startups and utilities. Moraes developed one of the first cybersecurity programs in Brazil and was recognized by IDG in 2020 as one of the top 50 global CISOs.

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