How can we create truly engaging, soulful places of work?

Inspired by a quote scribed on the wall of our conference room…

 “Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is progress; Working together is success.”

Henry Ford

… and so our discussion began acknowledging the significance of the quote, as a group of leaders coming together to think about

“how can we create truly engaging, soulful places of work?”

Sharing stories from our wide ranging experiences, we supported one another, developing our thoughts and insights.


Our initial exploration of what interferes with engaging and soulful practices in organisations reminded me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model.

… and this is how I have made sense of the thoughts emerging from our discussion.… and this is how I have made sense of the thoughts emerging from our discussion. For employees to feel engaged, leaders need to sustain an environment that fulfils their growth needs. The reality emerging from our discussion is that many of the organisations represented face significant commercial pressures meaning their basic survival and security needs are being challenged. It was recognised that this leads to fear based leadership behaviour, lack of trust and growing conflict with organisational purpose. In some instances, where deficiency needs become the focus, it has led to overwhelm, impacting significantly on personal health and wellbeing.

Teal principles for change

Thinking about what we want instead, we explored the three themes presented by Frederic Laloux in his description of “teal” organisations:

  1. Self-management
  2. Embracing wholeness
  3. Listening for evolutionary purpose

These three aspirations align with self-actualisation. Narrative from one organisation demonstrated, that by maintaining focus on its purpose, it has been able to transcend survival fears, and performance and engagement has excelled. Clarity of purpose has determined the moral compass by which tough decisions have been made, and people are trusted to work autonomously. Teams are aligned with, and deliver real value to their service users. A painful evolution, which challenges conventional thinking, has taken place to enable this organisation to flourish despite the tough commercial environment in which it operates.

Emerging thoughts…

So what emerged from the discussion for us to consider when aspiring to create truly engaging, soulful places of work?

  • Evolution is different and unique for each organisation, there isn’t a blueprint for change, however it was recognised the three teal principles shared by Laloux are a useful reference.
  • Leaders need to be comfortable with “not knowing”, enabling them to let go of controlling, fear based behaviour.
  • Trust the people who know best.
  • Honest, adult conversations are vital for successfully addressing conflict.
  • Authority can come from within… there are too many “experts” all to willing to advise, know when to listen to your inner voice.
  • Not everyone evolves at the same rate, you need patience and conviction to bring along the “late adopters”.
  • Keep asking “does what you do add value by making your client / end user’s life better?” If not, stop doing it!

Stories of overcoming challenges and positive transformation provided energy and hope for our discussion. I look forward to staying in touch with all of the organisation who participated in the discussion, to learn from each of you and your “what now?”


Curious about developing culture and shifting behaviours within your organisation? If so message me to find out more about planned events and opportunities to contribute to our discussion.