Managers and leaders know that most people are looking (consciously or not) for a number of things. These include:
- autonomy – the freedom to decide what they should do, when they should do it
- some control over their own future
- a chance to plan, act and succeed
- to improve things – to make them better
- to take some responsibility – to enjoy it – to seek it
- to be active rather than passive – to have an orientation towards action – rather than reaction to the instructions and orders of others
- to be a person rather than a human resource – a cog in a machine
- to be creative and autonomous
- to be acknowledged, recognised and valued by others.
Managers and leaders can establish relationships with people that help them to look for, and find, these things. People develop, talent flourishes, relationships improve and performance can excel. This group of people usually respond very well to the introduction of effective management and leadership as they it offers a vehicle for accelerating progress.
However some people are not looking for any of this.
They do not want freedom, or responsibility. They want instructions, structure and clarity. They want other people to do the thinking and the creativity. They want to be the foot soldiers – doing an honest days work for an honest days pay. They do not see life as a vehicle either for their own self development or creative expression. They are not looking for self-actualisation but security and control. This group can be very resistant to leadership, seeing it as an intrusion. They are likely to resist development, and accept change grudgingly, if at all.
There are several things to consider here:
- the first type of response is deemed ‘healthy’ – for society , the organisation and the individual. In these circumstances it is likely that people will thrive. The relationship is synergistic – what is good for the individual is likely to be good for the organisation and vice versa.
- the second type of response is not ‘healthy’. It is a defence mechanism. It leads to staleness, frustration and at best mediocrity. It is characterised by a loss of synergy – the perception being that what is good for the organisation or society will not be good for the individual and vice versa.
- the type of response that we find depends, in large part, on management and leadership style. For decades leadership has encouraged people to respond passively to direction to follow the ones who ‘knows the way and shows the way’. Some of it may be driven by personality or by experiences from the past or from outside the work context – but in most cases the response we get tells us much about our own management.
Go to the people
Live with them
Learn from them
Start with what they know
Build with what they have
But with the best leaders
When the work is done
The task accomplished
The people will say
“We have done this ourselves.”
Lao Tsu (700 BC)
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