‘Trust the process’ is a comforting notion that encourages us to believe in established systems and methods. The ‘process’ is a systematic and well-thought-out approach to achieving a particular goal or outcome and implies confidence in the steps, actions, or strategies to reach the desired result. Trusting the process means believing that following the established plan or procedure will lead to success, even if you have not seen immediate or obvious results. This mantra is often deployed when patience and faith are critical variables for success.
While that is valuable, leaders must also learn to adopt a contrarian view and challenge ‘the process’ when necessary because blind adherence to the status quo, among other things, stifles growth and innovation. As a leader, it’s imperative to be open to critical evaluation and change, recognize when to assemble your resources, and dare to disrupt the process.
Day-to-day Areas Worth Exploring:
- Innovation: Trusting the same old processes can put the brakes on innovation. Challenge the status quo to create an environment that fosters creativity and encourages your team to find better ways of doing things.
- Customer Feedback: Relying solely on established processes may lead to ignoring valuable customer feedback. Your customers are the best source of information on how to serve them better. Challenge the process by actively seeking and incorporating their input.
- Adaptation to Change: Processes can become outdated or ineffective. Challenge the process by evaluating its relevance, given the changing environment.
- Employee Empowerment: Trusting rigid systems can limit employees’ decision-making ability. Challenge the process by encouraging employees to think critically and make necessary improvements.
- Cost Efficiency: Examine processes for cost-effectiveness. What’s efficient today may not be tomorrow. Challenging the process can lead to cost savings and a leaner operation.
- Environmental Impact: Challenge processes that harm the environment. Seek better sustainable alternatives.
- Data Security: Trust but verify the effectiveness of security processes. Don’t wait for a breach. Provide proactive scrutiny.
- Quality Control: Processes can become too rigid, compromising product or service quality. Challenge them to maintain high standards.
- Diversity and Inclusion: Challenge hiring and promotion processes to ensure they promote diversity and inclusivity. A diverse team brings different perspectives and fosters additional innovation.
- Health and Safety: Review safety procedures to adapt to new risks and technologies. The well-being of your team is paramount, and an evolving approach to safety is necessary.
Challenging existing processes must be a thoughtful and strategic endeavor, emphasizing improvement rather than outright rejecting established norms. You want processes to work for you and your organization, not vice versa.
Since you’re already privileged to be a leader, let’s recognize that there is an implicit obligation to tackle even more challenging issues by taking bolder action to chip away at the goliath-sized unfair systems surrounding us. Incidentally, the less you notice or feel the reach or breadth of these systems, the greater ally you could become to those who live under their oppressive nature because you have been endowed with more power, whether you recognize it or not. So, use it.
Which of these could you take a whack at?
- Systemic Racism: Challenge traditional hiring and promotion practices that perpetuate systemic racism. Implement diversity and inclusion initiatives that actively combat these biases.
- Cronyism: Challenge networks of favoritism in decision-making. Promote transparency and merit-based criteria to ensure fair opportunities for all.
- Religious Evangelicalism: In environments where religious beliefs influence decisions, strike a balance by respecting individual beliefs while maintaining a secular and inclusive workplace, ensuring all employees are respected.
- Political Lobbying: Challenge corporate or organizational political lobbying that may prioritize self-interest over societal well-being. Advocate for ethical lobbying practices aligned with the greater good.
- Environmental Sustainability: In sectors with significant ecological impact, challenge processes that contribute to environmental degradation — champion sustainability practices and policies.
- Mental Health Stigma: Challenge workplace cultures that stigmatize mental health issues. Promote openness, provide resources, and reduce the shame associated with seeking help.
- Government Regulations: Question and advocate for necessary changes, ensuring they align with your organization’s ethical values and goals.
- Gender Equality: Challenge the gender pay gap and biases in leadership roles. Implement policies that promote equal opportunities and representation for all genders.
- Educational Reform: Address systemic issues in the education system, advocating for equitable access to quality education, regardless of socioeconomic background.
- Mass Surveillance: Challenge the invasion of privacy through surveillance processes and champion the responsible, transparent, and legal use of data.
Bold leadership is about facing problems directly, but being smart, fair, and inclusive is essential. Think about the different views and values in your group and community. The goal is to drive meaningful change while respecting different viewpoints.
While ‘trust the process’ can be valuable advice, leaders must also know when to question it. Getting better, being creative, and making positive changes often means challenging established norms and taking courageous steps toward improvement. Never be afraid to shake things up. Dare to disrupt the process; you will help lead others to a better tomorrow.