Soulful organizations LO11878

Debbie Broome (
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 15:49:42 -0600

Replying to LO11830 --

Replying to Malcom Burson's post:

>I, too, have found David Whyte's _The Heart Aroused_ helpful in my own
>reflections on this issue. "When an organization can be seen has _having_
>a soul, as well as honoring
>and nurturing the souls of its own folk and customers, what is it like?
>what are its characteristics? and how do we understand the connection(s)
>between this soul, and the capacity to learn? Finally, how do we foster
>organizational soulfulness?"

As I ponder these questions (I'm in the middle of reading David Whyte's
book), the current circumstances of my organization and Am De Lange and
Rol Fessenden posts I have the following comments.

I have found personally that it is much SAFER to share from the head, than
the heart in organizational life, BUT it does depend on the organization.
Having changed organizations in the past year, I am constantly trying to
figure out why I perceive one organization as being more "open" or
"soulful" than the other. I have found that there are marked contrasts.

The organization that I perceive as being more soulful did the following:

1. Leadership articulated that it would not tolerate destructive behaviors
from employees toward each other and enforced that with appropriate
disciplinary action when needed. Behaviors that were not tolerated
included malicious gossip, sexual innuendos, racist comments and the like
that you do not expect to find in organizations in the 1990s, but continue
to be practiced by certain individuals.

2. As an "unspoken" cultural value, employees were encouraged and
supported in efforts to do things together outside of work including
attending theater events, hiking clubs, community service groups, serving
at community events, etc. The same team that worked together to develop a
spoof on a drill marching team for a community parade also worked to solve
complex projects at work. Support came in the form of the organization
providing work time to organize events or practice for things such as

3. The leadership of this organization had a high degree of integrity and
they truly led by example.

4. The dress code in this organization went from very formal suits to
blue jeans every day (even for managers) in the six years I worked there.
People dressed more like themselves.

5. We instinctively made it a practice to say "yes" to each other,
instead of "no." (Rol Fessenden's example of personal mastery exercise).

These practices created a fairly safe atmosphere as far as organizations
go. Employees knew each other as individuals, knew one another's families,
hobbies, trials and tribulations. Some would say that this organization
was not professional, that work was not kept separate from outside of
work. Because we knew one another on a personal level and had more of an
investment in each other than the typical subordinate/employer
relationship, we were able to discuss values, spirtuality and things that
really meant something to us as individuals. Because of this, I think
that I was lucky to be a part of a very soulful organization, that valued
its members and continued to grow. As a manager, I was continually able
to give team members more and more responsibility and watch their skills
increase and the organization move forward.

Bottom line, if you don't do the things necessary to establish individual
trust, I don't think people are able to show their souls. We need to
remember though that the soul is there, as Am De Lange states: "some
succulent plants protect themselves with thornes or very deep root

Sorry for the long post.

Debbie Broome			e-mail:
Assistant City Manager		phone:  972-461-7465
City of Plano Texas		fax:  972-423-9587
P.O. Box 860358
Plano, TX  75086-0358

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