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 First Word by Scott M. Paton
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Coming
Together

by Scott Paton

In the wake of the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, whole nations (indeed, nearly the whole world) came together to mourn the loss of two very remarkable women. People similarly come together when nations are threatened. Remember the brief national unity that surrounded the Gulf War? And families rarely are closer than when they face a loss or other serious crisis.

It strikes me as odd, however, that when organizations are threatened or facing a crisis, they seldom come together in the same way as nations or families. Is it because organizations donít inspire the strong emotional ties that families or world leaders do?

It would be crass to compare the remarkable, life-touching, spiritually uplifting work of Mother Teresa to corporate donations given by Microsoft or IBM. Yet these organizations and others like them do give millions of dollars each year to charity. Their employees often work on their own time to clean up highways, send food to homeless shelters, and take up collections or payroll deductions to donate to the United Way or other charities. And while a corporation canít provide the human touch that a family can, itís certainly not unusual to find employees who consider their co-workers as family. These are the employees who wonít go home.

Yet when things go wrong in organizationsfinancial difficulties, layoffs, bankruptcy, union unrestemployees donít always rally around organizations as they would the flag or a great leader. Why?

Perhaps the answer lies in that magic word above: ďleader.Ē Those who inspire the greatest loyalty and earn the greatest respect almost invariably provide the greatest leadership and vision. Likewise, successful organizations are usually those which have provided great leadership and vision, and inspired their employees to come together in times of trouble. Look at the crises that IBM, Sears and others faced in years past. Lack of leadership was often the culprit. In fact, in the case of IBM and Sears, strong leadership has helped both of these corporations regain solid footing.

How does your organization inspire you and your co-workers to come together? Is it through dynamic leadership, frank and persistent communication, a clear vision known to all or is it something else entirely? Does your organization fail to inspire unity at all?

Iíd like to share some of your success stories and tales of organizational dysfunction with our readers in upcoming issues. Send your thoughts on this topic to me via mail or e-mail at spaton@qualitydigest.com.

Scott M. Paton
Publisher

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