We are neither fanatics nor fantasists, but…we start from view that work is a wonderful way to spend your time, that the ‘work-life balance is bullshit’ (because work is not the opposite of life but a fundamental part of a happy and fulfilling time on earth) and that active service in a shared cause is a great way to help you stay young at heart and agile of mind.
So what is the problem? The truth is that there are many and they vary.
Why do we say it’s simple but not easy? Because we’ve all put lots of the blocks there ourselves, which makes them harder to see.
The prevailing mythology of work does not help. The greatest of these myths are that leadership is the sole duty of those at the top and that senior people must know best about everything all the time. These ideas are daft, they cripple business performance and make life a charade for managers and execs.
But they’re also very attractive. It doesn’t take much for us to start believing our own publicity. And we’re all prone to yearn for a saviour every now and again. Put those dynamics together and you start to cement the mythology.
Then there’s the lure of short term gain. Building a sustainably brilliant business by harnessing the pent-up potential of your people takes time and there will be failures and resistance along the way. The freedom to act, create and lead within predefined constraints defines what we think of as a great place to work, but for some it would be a ghastly prospect. ‘Just another word for nothing left to lose’ sang Kristofferson about freedom. We know that most of us crave certainty yet the brutal truth is that there is precious little of that; especially when leadership is shorn of its mythical mantle of superiority. And far too many people equate leadership with the abuse of power (there have been more than enough high profile examples) to make the going easy.
Equally there are plenty of decision makers who get bored without immediate results – let alone with any evidence of teething trouble. Seeing a setback as precious data from the ‘leadership laboratory’ is all too often counter-cultural and, wrongly we say, confirmation that command and control needs a serious re-launch.
For those leading and following a serious change initiative to transform the business and life within it, resilience must be in abundant supply. We can help with that…
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