Hierarchy is essential to an organization. Clearly, it helps things run smoothly by ordaining decision-makers to sit in the proverbial corner offices. But this also creates power gaps, alienating workers who hold fresh new insights and ideas. If you want your organization to be innovative, break down the walls between employees and higher-ups.
How do leaders recognize the power gaps within their organizations and speak the cultural languages needed to bridge these gaps? Jane Hyun, the president and founder of the leadership development firm Hyun & Associates, and the author of Flex: The New Playbook for Managing Across Differences, is an expert in cultural fluency. She defines it as an essential leadership skill for navigating today’s fast-paced, increasingly global business world.
Hyun sat down with Big Think to share her insights into what executives need to be aware of to close these gaps.
Hyun stresses the importance of flex leadership, and calls it the art of switching between leadership styles to effectively communicate with people who are different from you. Generational, cultural, and gender differences shouldn’t create communication divides. Allowing power gaps to go unchecked can lead to loss of talent and stagnant growth.
“[A] Gallup study last year said something about $450 to $550 billion of loss due to disengaged employees,” she explains. “So you might have employees that you’ve hired into the organization that maybe had one foot out the door, that really don’t feel motivated and engaged and don’t feel like the organization is really speaking to them.”
For more on Hyun’s expert insights and tips to bridge the power gaps in your organization, watch this clip from Big Think‘s interview: