The Boss’s Lie

“What I want is someone who will do what I tell them to.”
“What I want is someone who works cheap.”
“What I want is someone who shows up on time and doesn’t give me a hard time.”

So if this is what the boss really wants, how come the stars in the company don’t follow these three rules?

From Seth Godin’s Linchpin

Managing for Autonomy

If we want engagement, and the mediocrity busting results it produces, we have to make sure people have autonomy over the four most important aspects of their work:
  1. Task – What they do
  2. Time – When they do it
  3. Technique – How they do it
  4. Team – Whom they do it with.
After a decade of truly spectacular underachievement, what we need now is less management and more freedom – fewer individual automatons and more autonomous individuals.
Daniel H. Pink
Want to learn how to manage for autonomy?  Get in touch.

Change is Good

I have just come across a really good online video, thanks to Phil Gerbyshack, called Change is Good.  It seems to sum up so many of the principles that I try to teach people how to practice in my PMN workshops.  (There are still someplaces left on Giving and Getting Great Feedback on 20th May in Leeds).

The film is only a couple of minutes long but contains so many great hints, tips, reminders and pointers to profound truths that should have immense implications for personal and organisational change.

Why not show it at your next team meeting and see what reactions, suggestions and feedback it elicits.

The video has a soundtrack – but still works if you are not sound enabled!

Change Is Good – The Movie

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Conscious Capitalism

I have been watching a movement develop over recent years called ‘conscious capitalism’ or ‘conscious business’.  It provides a different take on what it means to be a ‘social enterprise’.  The idea is being pioneered by amongst others, John Mackey, CEO of Wholefoods Supermarket.  In a recent speech he says:

A Conscious Business is one which has two major attributes that define it:

  1. It has a deeper purpose beyond only making profits. Just like individual people by following their hearts can discover their own sense of deeper purpose, so can the business enterprise. I believe that great businesses have great purposes that inspire them to higher levels of success. Think for a moment about some of the greatest businesses in the world and ask yourself whether they exist to fulfill a greater purpose beyond only maximizing profits. Certainly Apple does, driven by its intense desire to create “insanely great” technology which transforms our lives in positive ways. Clearly Google does too with its passion for discovery and desire to operate an ethical company. One of the best examples in the world is Grameen Bank in Bangladesh founded by 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus, which exists to end poverty in Bangladesh and throughout the world. Every business has the potential to discover and actualize its higher purpose—it has the potential to become more conscious.
  2. The Conscious Business also understands the interdependency of all of the major stakeholder groups—customers, employees, investors, suppliers, communities, and the environment—and the business is managed to consciously create value for all of these major stakeholders. Instead of viewing the stakeholders in terms of win-lose relationships with conflicts of interest dominating their interactions, the Conscious Business understands that there is a harmony of interests between the stakeholder groups and that by working together greater value can be created for all of them. At Whole Foods we understand that management’s most important job is to make sure the team members are well trained and happy at their work. The team members in turn understand that their job is to satisfy and delight the customers and happy customers result in happy investors through the prosperity of the business. A virtuous circle is created with all of the stakeholders flourishing together.

Who will create the Conscious Businesses of the 21st century—businesses that have deeper purpose and are managed consciously to create value on behalf of all of the stakeholders?

John Mackey, May 2008

This feels to me like a much more coherent, honest and powerful approach to making business work for the planet than cleaving it along  ‘social enterprise = good; for profit = bad’ divide.

Of course words are relatively easy (although John Mackey has found that words have got him into lots of how water in the past.  We have to judge the movement by its achievements.  But I am hopeful.

You can read a much fuller paper by John Mackey called ‘Conscious Capitalism’ here.

18 tips for Better Partnership Working

I have just completed a 2 day workshop with a great group of partnership managers.  Here is what I learned!

  1. Get really clear and comfortable about your self interest. Your personal  reaction to the opportunities and possibilities offered in your role.
  2. Communicate this powerfully in language that the recipient will understand and value.
  3. Develop your professional self interest – the overlap between your individual/personal and professional/organisational response to what REALLY matters.
  4. Build your power to influence what really matters through investing in person to person relationships. Invest in a series of 121s. Share what really matters to you. Be clear on how they will perceive you.
  5. Use the allies/opponents/adversaries/fencesitters/bedfellows model to help you structure this.
  6. Become power hungry (why wouldn’t you want power to make what you believe in happen? Don’t leave power for the bad guys of this world to grab!)
  7. Building a powerful coalition around your ideas inside the business is as important as building one externally.
  8. Know your reputation – find ways to find what people REALLY think of you and your agenda – but are too polite to say!
  9. Don’t be busy fools. Work on the most powerful relationships. That is the relationships that give you the most power – this has little or nothing to do with the ‘authority’ power of the other party. Think leverage. Think goals.
  10. Think ‘enlightened self interest‘  and here.
  11. Ring fence thinking time – 2 lots of 90 minutes a week – to develop your agenda – rather than respond to the needs and agendas of others. This will increase your sense of control and reduce your levels of stress – as well as making you much more effective and creative. GUARANTEED.
  12. Agree on the ends.   Be different, challenging, creative and risky when it comes to the means. You don’t always have to play by the rules. Think Mandela.
  13. If you play by the rules of bureaucracy it will find ways of stifling change.
  14. Don’t let years of socialisation in being helpful and humble result in you being a selfless partner. Nobody wants to partner with Uriah Heep – but they may just take everything you have.
  15. Resist the safety of bureaucracy – maintenance, safety, dependency (external locus of control).
  16. Pursue the entrepreneurial way – greatness, courage and autonomy (internal locus of control).
  17. Don’t waste too much time and energy on the difficult people. Invest it in those who share your self interest – life is just better that way.
  18. Always take your own chalk and be cautious in your selection of cues….(this is not a mystical metaphor – just a statement of fact).

Anything I have missed?

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung

Recognising Your Choices…

Most of us have bosses.

As a result we experience ourselves reacting to both people and events that are outside of ourselves.  It feels to us like control lies elsewhere.

“Mike you don’t understand.  I can’t make any of this happen unless senior management buys in and supports the idea.  Once we get them on board we will have a chance.”

A reluctance to take full responsibility for our actions develops.  We learn to shift the blame elsewhere.  We lose sight of our responsibility for the type of organisation that we have helped to build.  We genuinely believe that the mediocrity that surrounds us has nothing to do with us. It is all the work of someone else, somewhere else.

Of course it is true that there is nearly always someone who has power over us.  But even in the face of this reality, we still have choices.  Choices that can lead us towards enterprise and progress – entrepreneurial choices; or choices that lead us towards safety and maintenance – bureaucratic choices.

We can choose to operate from an entrepreneurial mindset or a bureaucratic one.

We can choose between:

  • Maintenance and Greatness
  • Caution and Courage
  • Dependency and Autonomy

In my experience many managers do not recognise these choices.  They wrap themselves in the  cultural cloaks of the organisation – usually more bureaucratic then entrepreneurial – and lose sight of the fact that THEY can make a difference.

In the short term of course the bureaucratic choice has many advantages:

  • You blend in rather than stand out.
  • You risk little.
  • You minimise the chances of failure (and success).
  • You help to build a culture of shared contentment with mediocrity.

In the context of making the most of your life however the entrepreneurial mindset wins every time:

  • It allows you to find and develop your own unique contribution
  • You take more risks – and develop the relationships and experience that will help you to manage them effectively
  • You increase the chances of failure – but also give yourself a chance of great success.
  • You help to build a culture of enterprise and excellence

So just reflect as you go through your working day what do your actions say about the choices that you have made – entrepreneurial or bureaucratic?

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half – unless he is bloody careful!

Mike Chitty

Without Valleys There Can Be No Mountains

I am not sure where I first collected this quote but the more I think about it the more I see its relevance to effective management.

To me it means that wherever there is a great strength there is also a great weakness.  You cannot have one without the other.  Ying and Yang. I think this relates to a Jungian concept that whatever light shows us our way forward will always cast a corresponding shadow.

If this is the case then it becomes impossible to minimise a weakness without compromising the strength with which it is paired.

It also means that whenever we see a weakness we should look for the corresponding strength.  This is important because so many managers become almost obsessed by fixing problems rather than by celebrating and maximising strengths.

So when you find yourself recognising a weakness in yourself or others – spend a few moments looking for the corresponding strength.