People power reminders

“A cause without committed people gets nowhere and committed people without a unifying cause go nowhere.” Robert Waterman

Some focus on the uniqueness of individuals but I prefer to remind myself about the truth of what all people have in common. Every (normal) human being is driven to make their mark – a significant, positive impact. Put in other ways, people have a need to create, to work autonomously, to problem solve and to make things work better. (Some even link this to evolution to demonstrate how fundamental and powerful this force is.)

Working in alignment with this, ‘people power’ peaks – both intellect and passion. Experts tell us that under these conditions, people even access latent brain reserves. The opposite is also true for people: If they do something only for someone else and/or because the have to, they often:

  • Lose momentum
  • Do the opposite when annoyed
  • Over time, resent unappreciated effort

At the very least, they do not put their heart and soul into it.

Those ‘in charge’ and their ‘charges’ all too frequently end up in a battle of wills. Too often, the resulting waste of people power and collective goodwill depletes what could otherwise be a driving force towards organisational goals. This inevitably occurs when those in power are perceived as:

In response to this people hold back. You may see workarounds, deliberately contrary behaviour, sniping, story telling, gossiping and other work distractions. Presenteeism: there, but not contributing 100% to the common cause.

Most know this about people but few manage in alignment with this and even fewer capitalise on it.

It is good news. It means that people are essentially driven to make something work extraordinarily well and don’t need ‘motivating’. If we don’t tie them up in meaningless procedures that make no sense anymore, breath down their necks, micro manage, find fault with small details and impose a single route to success, we allow the investment of their full brilliance and passion.

Leadership creates the environment in which people can express their unique individualism within the context of collective purpose. This has been expressed in the Lean principle as Freedom within Framework. When we all agree how the critical success factors inter-relate, how we measure success and who we need to impress to stay in business, people make the minute-by-minute calls that get the best possible outcome given each situation’s challenges, constraints and even people quirks. That is the agile intelligence and human connectedness that computers can never bring to any mission.

When people are invested, driven and resolute, it’s pretty hard to fail but you may be surprised at how many managers do things to people and at them instead of with them. Of course great leaders make it look easy while others have no idea of the negative wake they leave and the waste they unwittingly cause. I spend a lot of my time coaxing staff to be understanding when in fact I wonder if they should simply leave. What a waste.

You can influence but never control this power. “Your brain is your own.  Your boss doesn’t own it; nor can any government own it.  You alone are the director of this critical means of production.”  Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom

Leadership ensures people answer to the collective (not the boss) for how their unique contribution fuels the collective (pre-agreed) purpose. Once everyone is agreed, it is then up to each individual to continuously assess their ‘PNPS’ (personal net promoter score). This is how they ensure they add value to ‘the cause’ while staying true to themselves – a win-win.

This says it all: (From 19.50 minutes – approx 22.30 minutes)


About Cherri Holland

Fascinated with business, brains and how to use the brains on the payroll to make business buzz.
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