“While it would be nice if everyone handled freedom the same way, that’s not a realistic expectation. After switching to an autonomous structure, Buffer learned the hard way that freedom without leadership can be harmful.”
“For me, this is an example of the role of the manager. I was not the leader because the idea to form a circle in the middle was not mine. I was not a coach because I didn’t help any person with their contribution. And I was not a director because I didn’t provide any specific rules or instructions.
Instead, I just observed the system and I intervened by announcing that it wasn’t doing its job well. I then let the system work out the details.”
Trust is a feeling, a distinctly human experience. Simply doing everything that you promised you’re going to does not mean that people will trust you, it just means that you’re reliable.
From my notes at Maria Guidice’s talk about the Rise of the DEO at the St. Louis Art Museum on Tuesday. I’ve got more, just not yet.
The following ties in well with my recent post Parents should be leaders (not managers) and my overall theme for Autism Awareness Month, so I’m reposting it in its entirety. I first posted this in April of 2008.
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What would you think if your friend/neighbor/sibling told you that they had left their 9 year old son at a department store in mid-town Manhattan, by himself, because “he had been begging for me to please leave him somewhere, anywhere, and let him try to figure out how to get home on his own”? Would you call Child Protective Services, or would you say “good for you”? Would you ever do something like that?
Anyway, for weeks my boy had been begging for me to please leave him somewhere, anywhere, and let him try to figure out how to get home on his own. So on that sunny Sunday I gave him a subway map, a MetroCard, a $20 bill, and several quarters, just in case he had to make a call.
No, I did not give him a cell phone. Didn’t want to lose it. And no, I didn’t trail him, like a mommy private eye. I trusted him to figure out that he should take the Lexington Avenue subway down, and the 34th Street crosstown bus home. If he couldn’t do that, I trusted him to ask a stranger. And then I even trusted that stranger not to think, “Gee, I was about to catch my train home, but now I think I’ll abduct this adorable child instead.”
Long story short: My son got home, ecstatic with independence.
Long story longer, and analyzed, to boot: Half the people I’ve told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It’s not. It’s debilitating — for us and for them.
It’s that last sentence in the excerpt above that really caught my eye. It is no less true for our autistic kids than it is for our non-autistic kids. There are obviously some differences that need to be allowed for, but only by being given independence – true independence – can kids learn how to be independent, and parents learn how to accept that independence.
As you can imagine, there was a huge negative reaction. But she also received some support from her readers. Check out her follow up, America’s Worst Mom, for the details. Security expert Bruce Schneier also weighs-in on his blog, that is worth a read as well.
Sure there are risks, and there will be mistakes and issues along the way. But isn’t that what life is all about?
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On the subject of leadership, there is a lesson to be learned here for managers/leaders of all kinds.
When talking about management, what most people are thinking about is efficiency, maximizing output per unit of input. Many (most?) people talk about the need for leadership in addition to, or even instead of, management.
But what exactly do we get from leadership? What is its purpose?
The first word that comes to mind is “effectiveness”. But most measures of effectiveness are based on a desired end-state, which to me makes this just a different way of measuring efficiency.
Is leadership just another way to get people to do what you want them to do so you can accomplish your own goals? Or is it something different, something more?
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When you “manage” something / someone, the best you can hope for is what you ask for. When you “lead” someone, there is no way to know ahead of time what you will end up with.
Maybe the question is better addressed in the context of the Cynefin framework:
Management : Simple :: Leadership : Chaotic
(and possibly disorder), with a sliding mix of the two being appropriate in complicated or complex situations.
Of course, I’m not the first person to consider this question. There are many (many many) more thoughts on this question out there, as you can see in the Google search results for leadership vs. management.