How to Diagnose and Improve your Organization’s Health

How healthy is your organization? What if you could determine a health level for your organization that would allow you to address specific health needs while celebrating and building off your areas of strength? How healthy is your leadership and how are others in the organization experiencing that leadership? It is mandatory for leaders to diagnose organizational health from a servant leadership perspective. Everyone in the organization; top leaders, managers and workforce should determine an organizational health level while revealing perception gaps that may exist between these three position levels.

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Health Organization

Higher authorities can assess organizations on a six point model (Displays Authenticity, Values People, Develops People, Builds Community, Provides Leadership and Shares Leadership) that not only provides assessment, but also creates an efficient and powerful way to develop improvement plans for your organization.  Each of these six key disciplines is defined by three descriptors.

The Healthy Organization:

  • Displays Authenticity – by being open and accountable, by a willingness to learn from others and by maintaining integrity and trust.
  • Values People – by believing in and trusting in people, by serving other’s needs first and by receptive and non-judgmental listening.
  • Develop People – by providing opportunities for learning, by modeling appropriate behavior and by building up others through encouragement and affirmation.
  • Build Community – by building strong relationships, by working collaboratively and by valuing the differences of others.
  • Provide Leadership – by envisioning the future, by taking initiative and by mobilizing others to act.
  • Share Leadership – by facilitating a shared vision, by sharing power and releasing control and by sharing status and promoting others.

These six leadership disciplines (along with the eighteen descriptors) serve to encourage and define both healthy organizations and healthy leadership practice that serves to create a leadership culture, a service mentality and a highly satisfied workforce.

Research utilizing the above criteria (over 45 doctoral dissertations completed) reveals that organizations that keep these primary leadership disciplines normally have:

  • Higher Job Satisfaction for employees
  • Higher levels of trust (in the organization and in the leadership)
  • Lower levels of attrition/turnover
  • Lower levels of absenteeism
  • Higher levels of team effectiveness, and
  • Higher levels of student achievement (in the case of public schools)

In addition, this particular model also reveals six different organizational health levels; moving from Toxic/Poor health to Excellent/Optimal health. By identifying your health level you and your leadership team can diagnose your health status while determining specific areas to address for improvement.

Research has shown that about one third of organizations fall within the Org 1 and Org 2 levels (Toxic/Poor Health).  This poor health level is severely harming the effectiveness of leadership and the motivation of employees to better serve customers and each other. This poor health is characterized by low levels of trust, high levels of fear, low creativity and risk taking, weak communication and inability to respond positively to change.

Autocratic Leadership

On the opposite end of the spectrum only about 13% of organizations fall within the Org 5 and Org 6 levels (Excellent or Optimal health). These organizations display the six disciplines listed above as defining a healthy organization and they experience high levels of trust, low levels of fear, higher creativity and risk taking, effective communication and  a strong ability to manage change.

This leaves us with 54% of organizations being neither Toxic nor Excellent in their organizational health.  What health level are these organizations functioning under and how does this affect their leadership and organizational life? Org 3 Level organizations are characterized by a Negative Parent leadership mindset that leads to a critical atmosphere, negative reinforcement motivation and avoidance. Org 4 Level organizations are characterized by a Positive Parent leadership mindset that leads to a nurturing atmosphere, positive reinforcement but with a dependent relationship between leaders and followers.

In contrast, fully healthy organizations are characterized by adult partnerships, empowered leaders at every level of the organization and a support-up verses an authority-down approach to leadership. This organizational health model provides the best potential for organizational success and the development of effective leadership.

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