Our organizations are full of human beings yet the latest buzz is about human capital. When will 21st Century organizations finally let go of the language of the Industrial Age? Language is powerful. Words create worlds. And as long as we continue to use the language of the 19th Century our organizations will remain caught up in a 19th Century mindset.
With the emergence of the Industrial Age in the 19th Century organizations began to treat people like interchangeable cogs in a highly structured system. It continued to be the prevailing model during the 20th Century. The models core belief is that people must be closely monitored to control their actions because they cannot be trusted; leaders command and managers control.
In the latter part of the 20th Century that model began to shift as we entered the age of the "knowledge worker". With the knowledge worker came the demand for greater flexibility. After all, what good is knowledge if its use needs to be sanctioned by others in the hierarchy every time action is required? By their nature hierarchies are inflexible and not well suited to respond quickly to rapid change. But rapid change is what the 21st Century is all about.
Today's organizations need innovative thinkers, engaged workers, and collaborative workforces to navigate successfully through the rough waters of change. They require leaders at all levels. And those leaders need to develop great insight into who they are and how they impact their surroundings. Impactful leaders use their insights to create collaborative environments based on a shared vision and mission. These environments acknowledge people's strengths, talents and capacity for leadership by engaging the whole human being.
What a concept! We no longer need Industrial Age labels like "Human Capital", "Human Resources", and "Human Assets" to describe the people that are the heart of our organizations. And what if we communicated more from the heart instead of mostly from the head? Would we not create powerful connections, build meaningful relationships, and in doing so create thriving organizations? We would indeed!
As 21st Century organizations begin to shift the existing paradigm, they see themselves primarily as whole human systems capable of engaging the whole human being for the benefit of all stakeholders.
I like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
"Without the head the heart has no words;
Without the heart the words have no meaning;
Without action the meaning goes nowhere."
Looking forward to hearing from you!