The Wisdom is in the System … we just need to listen.

Have you ever been faced with what seem to be so many critical and competing priorities that you feel like you are either going in circles or frozen in place because you don’t know where or how to start? There is so much noise it’s hard to discern priorities… to know what is most needed now. You’re not alone!

This is where the CEO of a large regional social services non-profit was when we first met. Although she had been with the organization the bulk of her professional life, the role of CEO was new to her. I listened as she described the current state of the organization. Top of her mind for her was a recently failed technology implementation, declining enrollment, and a new executive team that had not yet gelled.

The technology implementation failure had left the organization reeling. Some who had been involved with the process left, others were traumatized, and there was a prevailing sense of discouragement and distrust. On top of that, enrollment numbers in their primary program and revenue generator had been declining steadily, due in large part to their failure to adequately respond to changes in the environment, including the needs and objectives of their primary customer base. Add to that, a palpable sense of friction and distrust among some members of her senior leadership team was spilling over into the organization.

There were so many places to focus – she didn’t know where to start. So much noise that everything seemed to be the same volume.

Does this feel familiar?

We’ve all been here at some point and this is where nature has great wisdom for us… “just listen.” Nature is continuously listening… to itself and its environment. Nature never seems to be stuck, overwhelmed, not know what to do. There is calm in listening. When we truly allow ourselves to pause and exhale and be present to what is needed now, what we need to know becomes clear.

The CEO didn’t need my expertise or advice.

She needed me to listen. As I did, I was able to share back what I was hearing her say and she began to hear in my words, the clarity she already had in terms of two important and interrelated priorities.

First, strategically, the organization needed to transform its services and programs to be relevant in its volatile and rapidly changing environment.

Second, and most pressing, she needed a strong and aligned executive team, not only to share leadership in a transformative process, but to help the organization heal from the trauma of the failed technology implementation.

The wisdom is in the system… in this case, the organization’s CEO.

“So”, she asked, “where do we go from here?” “We continue to listen” I said, “this time to your executive team.”