Might sound obvious, so why don’t we include people in decision making?
What I have experienced most often is that, due to imagined risk we are unable to be vulnerable to others. We imagine the physical and emotional costs of being judged or rejected by colleagues, social groups, friends and family. This leaves us guarded and compels us to hide who we really are.
The group culture that we care about and associate with, OR the one we find our self within daily [unwillingly], shapes our degree of openness with others. We are most often unaware of just how much group norms and values influence our own thoughts and behavior.
When the group culture financially supports our personal safety, things can go terribly wrong, especially when our dominant focus in life is skewed towards personal safety. When group culture incentivizes extreme risk avoidance and has no way to objectively determine the true risk avoided nor to offer credit for those who helped to mitigate it, we wind up with fear-based relationships that shut down personal honesty and sincerity of group interaction.
There is only safety for the individual through successful group outcomes. Individuals operating selfishly without reference to the well-being of the group, wind up damaging the group dynamics and possibly disband the group. An organization is simply a larger group of people who have gathered to serve society in a unique and meaningful way, which is far more productive than the individual could achieve alone.
The individual who knowingly sacrifices the organizational goals to preserve their own personal safety, is synonymous to cancer in the human body. The individual [cell] will eventually kill itself while it spreads its fear-based, selfish behavior throughout the entire body (the organization).
We fear the unknown. We avoid our fears.
Managing vs. Leading
Management is primarily about ensuring predictable outcomes and proving the organization reliable to the customer. We can manage only what we have awareness of. In life, what we were NOT aware of is what hurts us. Direct experience brings awareness. Active, on-going engagement in group pursuits brings relevant awareness and experience.
Individuals have a critical responsibility to ensure that the organization is kept aware of the environment it is operating in so that the organization can uphold its promises to society.
- As an individual team member, you must keep your manager(s) well informed and hold them accountable to your team – managers must resolve issues that block your Team and should simplify the environment that your team must operate within.
- As an individual manager, you must go where the action occurs – you must witness the live effort as Teams support real customers (or design future solutions to serve them). Problems are created by hiding behind your desk while your teams struggle.
- As an individual Leader, you must provide clear vision to both Employees and Customers, fully engaging the entire system of teams and resources, to ensure that a transparent and and well-aligned culture is realized – one which maximizes value for Customers in an attempt to surprise and delight them.
The core breakdown I have witnessed is that the organization is often viewed as an ambiguous entity – “them”, individuals we cannot point to directly – and in lacking a human identity, the organization loses its accountability to both Employees and the segment of Society they are trying to serve.
YOU are the organization. So why do we think the organization is responsible, yet the individual [often] is not? Quite ridiculous?
We do not [often] divulge personal fear. What is not discussed, is not addressed. If the group is unaware, it cannot surface and resolve concerns. Unspoken fear separates and disables the group. Fear, overall, separates all of US.
We must lose our fear, first as an individual, if we ever wish to become more vulnerable to our colleagues who are trying to serve alongside us. We cannot manage fear – we can only surface it and resolve it, together. Individuals often lie to themselves, that they manage risk/fear well, but suppressing fear and avoiding fear is disabling and leads to a reactionary approach to life (at great cost for society).
Enter the concept of Leadership. Do not confuse Leadership with Management. Leadership is about pursuing the unknown, with passion and fearlessness. This requires faith, vision, ability to inspire others, and the courage to admit when things are not working – then to pivot and persevere. Leaders know that outcomes are the best when all talent available is leveraged and included in the planning & execution of strategy.
We cannot manage the group’s reality if we do not know it. We cannot lead others to a new shared reality, without a solid understanding of our current state. Leaders are required to surface current reality and to improve reality on-going. We cannot manage our way to a new tomorrow.
“Managing” Complexity & Outcomes
The world has become quite complex, at least when you view it at the surface of the challenges facing society. Now more than ever, we need inspirational leaders to rally the energy of talented, driven people who insist on owning their own happiness – who in turn, set out to help society own their own pursuit of happiness and contentment.
Ponder for a moment …
What sparks someone who is used to operating more so for their own personal security, to begin to divulge their own insecurities and seek genuine assistance from the group?
Perhaps the answer has something to do with seeing and believing in your connection and codependency on others?
I submit to you that we expend far too much energy trying to Manage life, whether our own or the focus of other people. We seek to Control, rather than support life. As suggested, too often our desire to control is based on fear of personal safety (or for those we care about).
Additionally, prevailing culture is often so focused on Outcomes that we fail to see the beauty in the journey and to accept that the best outcomes result by supporting groups of people to achieve something far greater than the individual could do alone.
If we can remember just how connected and co dependent we all are on each other, we would naturally return to a mode of serving each other. As we serve, the curtain of denial drops, showing us just how little control we really have over the outcomes, which most often we desire just for our own well-being.
Realizing the true lack of control you, the individual, have over external [to you] events, is therefore the first key step towards getting honest with yourself and become more genuine and supportive of others.
Please share your initial reaction to this? Reflect on this for a few days and then return to share additional insight?