Who is Dr Sumant Monty Badami?
Dr Sumant Monty Badami, better known as “Monty” is an anthropologist and the founder of Habitus, a social enterprise that gives you life hacks to be a good human. Monty combines evolutionary evidence with cross-cultural research to explain the secret to our adaptability and success as a species. He designs and delivers workshops that help people put more meaning and joy back into their lives. In addition to this, Monty is also an officer in the Australian Army Reserve, which has enabled him to deal with things like strategy, team building, finding the objective and achieving it with maximum safety and minimal resources. We were lucky enough to chat with him about his thoughts on including your team in the essence of your business strategy.
What is a Business Strategy in relation to your Culture?
‘Business Strategy’ and ‘Culture’, two words we hear almost daily in the business world! Have you ever taken the time to actually consider what they may mean for your business? We often see businesses creating a divide between strategy and culture, but we strongly advise you to guard against this. We believe the two work hand in hand and sit at the core of your business. There is more potential in embracing the complexity of both strategy and culture rather than keeping them separate, reduced to simple things and leaving them to sit side by side. Complex situations deserve complex solutions, solutions that are able to adapt and move with the changes, not be rigid and static. With all of this in mind, a strategy should be put in place to shape the culture. On the flip side, your business needs to have a culture that is inclusive and enables this continual flow of information.
By creating a culture where you can;
- Leverage the wisdom of your team
- Challenge assumptions
- Embrace failure as a necessary part of success
- Create the conditions where the business can have healthy conflict
This is where true success is found.
This enables you to level up your culture to deal with some of these complex situations. You will level up your ability to produce more robust and usable strategies as your business meets the dynamically changing business world. A Strong Culture is what will shape your employees’ behaviour. Having a strategy in place to create and nurture a strong culture should be the focus of your business. Then you will start to see that strategy and culture are closely connected.
Why is it important to include your team in your business strategy?
In order for your team to feel engaged and included, you have to have a culture of inclusivity. Incorporating your team in the brainstorming process or development of your business strategy can largely contribute to this. Your team is made up of diverse individuals who have different insights and opinions. They may be able to add value to your business plan, or a different perspective that you previously hadn’t seen. Use the diversity within your team’s culture as an opportunity and strength rather than a threat. Make sure your employees are heard and valued in such a way that they become part of the narrative of the business. Your employees may show you a better way of doing something, especially if they are younger and more tech-savvy and have a better insight into the technological world. The key is to listen to them and use and value their contributions rather than feel threatened and fight them. This requires a level of humility, this is what it is to be a true leader and a successful employer.
- Cultural Humility is acknowledging that the way you have previously been doing things, is not the only way to do things.
- Intellectual Humility is also something to consider when including your team in your business strategy.
Here we speak of the fact that yes an employer may have “intellectual expertise”, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are an expert of their employees’ experience and knowledge. When you, as an employer, leverage, learn and grow from this, you will see your employees’ happiness flourish and a positive business strategy will form. It’s important to bring everyone’s knowledge of expertise together rather than keep them in separate boxes.
Bearing in mind, simple situations may require simple solutions where yes, the boss may make a quick decision at the top of the company. Or likewise in drastic times where fast decisions need to be made. The key is to see where the appropriate solution is needed and when and where to bring your employees on board.
What can you expect when you include your team in your business strategy?
Anxiety, uncertainty and discomfort! We know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it’s true, and we’d rather give you the facts. Change is scary for everyone, incorporating something you previously didn’t will bring some discomfort to both you and your team. Creating open and honest communication lines is a powerful tool to put in place at this level. The growth that will take place following this, will be worth everyone’s time and effort. This is where, as we mentioned earlier, a good strategy can help with a more inclusive and empowered culture. Put in strategies that make you secure until you get to your ‘safe space’. If you’re always growing, you may need to always embrace this discomfort, which can be a positive for your business.
Including your team also brings the perspective of both masculine and feminine energies, emotions, and experiences. Both are wired so differently, hence they have differing outlooks. Masculine personas will tend to be logical, solution-focused, whereas feminine personas won’t necessarily need closure, they may sit with the information for a while. It’s a great balance to have between masculine and famine energy, no matter the gender of the person.
Another expectation to have is conflict, steer this towards being healthy conflict. Embrace failure, it helps your business to learn from its mistakes and grow. Businesses that have a ‘no failure tolerance’ either have staff who hide their mistakes or are too afraid to take risks. Neither are positive for your business. Honest self-reflection about what works or doesn’t work is a positive process to have in your business. This aligns with both the strategic and the cultural aspects.
How do you make this work when your business grows?
When your business is smaller and you can take the advice and hear the thoughts of 20-50 staff, it’s a lot easier than having a growing corporation that reaches 500+. How do you take all of their thoughts and perspectives into consideration?
The key is to have the same powerful feedback channels which you have in smaller businesses. As your business grows, develop these channels so all staff feels they can come to you as the employer and have their thoughts heard. Ensure you don’t neglect staff or fall into that ‘no failure is tolerated’ policy, as staff may be scared to share their ideas then. Embracing diverse teams, and empowering them to create strategies for themselves harbours growth in this environment. Connections between teams is a BIG must. This cross-pollinating communication allows ideas to flow throughout your business and will assist the investment in the inclusion culture. It also helps to give everyone a better sense of the whole so that they can see how everyone fits into the larger vision.
Top 5 Tips
To help you deal with the complex yet innovative spaces that might be experienced in your business when aligning business strategy and culture:
- Stay engaged
- Speak your truth
- Listen for understanding
- Expect & accept discomfort
- Expect & accept non-closure