“Our world radically changed when our mind-set shifted from avoiding errors to achieving excellence. Though it seemed to some like just a change in language, it resulted in a change in behaviour.” Andy Worshek
In his business bestseller Turn the Ship Around, L. David Marquet asks us to imagine a workplace where everyone engages and contributes their full intellectual capacity, a place where people are healthier and happier because they have more control over their work - a place where everyone is a leader.
It’s true that many people don’t find fulfilment in their work, and for many going to work each day is something to be tolerated rather than to be enjoyed. And on top of it all, when the fundamental aim each day is to avoid errors, problems and conflicts - it’s reasonable to begin questioning whether it might be the current leadership paradigm that needs to change!
I’ve been working with businesses for more than 30 years, and it’s astonishing that in the majority of organisations, “leaders” still do the thinking and order giving and “followers” still do the doing and the order following. As Marquet reminds us - when something goes amiss, we exhort leaders to give better orders and exhort followers to follow orders better! Generation after generation of employees have learned that their job is not to think, to care, to assume responsibility, to make decisions. How can they when day after day we expect them to simply cut more and more stones rather than asking them to participate in building the cathedral?
Imagine for a moment what it would look like, sound like and feel like in your organisation if everyone felt responsible for the organisation; if everyone worried about the same things that the business managers or owners worried about; if leaders stopped giving orders and instead created an environment where employees didn’t need to be told what to do?
Creating this type of organisation requires reinventing leadership and the way in which we talk to each other and treat one another. It requires creating an organisation where everyone comes to work each day thinking, feeling and acting as if they own the business!
At Ninety Days we’ve been teaching this philosophy and approach to business for more than 20 years. It works - and the results are simply astonishing! By creating a system in your organisation where people at every level have the information and the business education to make better business decisions, you give control to your people and they assume leadership, take responsibility and hold themselves and each other accountable for their results. And what about the leaders? Well, it means they can finally offer leadership: inspiring shared visions, challenging the status quo, growing and enabling the team, being the example and praising and recognising people for their contribution.
As Marquet says - the basic assumption is this: excellence is achieved when everyone is thinking. In our experience thinking creates understanding and understanding is what generates better decision-making. Contrast this with the still prevailing leadership “telling” paradigm that effectively discourages thinking and understanding, and instead encourages the following of orders. What else should you expect other than disengaged employees who crack open the windows of their cars in the company parking lot so that their hearts and minds can breathe, while they bring only their hands to work…
If you would like to learn more about how to reinvent the role of leadership and generate Ownership Thinking in your business please contact email@example.com, or use the contact form on our website (www.ninety-days.co.uk).
Reference: L. David Marquet (2015) Turn The Ship Around!: A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the Rules, : Penguin.