In the interview called Death of Command and Control on Rod Collins, the former COO of Blue Cross-Blue Shield, explained why the old system of hierarchical management and controls just doesn’t work anymore … it’s too slow. Getting to market is a whole lot faster when the entire team is clear about what their diverse talents come together supported by systems and processes to facilitate collaboration. The prevailing notion is that collaboration and participation takes too long. In a task-driven culture, this explains why the attachment to managerial control is so strong. Old habits die hard.

It is not the manager’s fault. Once upon a time the orders came from on high. Middle managers made sense out of the edict and then everyone kicked into high gear to make it all happen. The flow was up and down … or so it seemed. Now we know that it doesn’t work like that. Thirty years of social action research tells us that gettings things done involves letting go vertically so things can do what they do so well horizontally. Goal driven achievement involve members of the employee’s network who are outside the company. Try controlling that.

What about engaging employees? Social action research tells us that collaboration and innovation is natural. Yet most company cultures are focused on rewards and incentives missing the whole point. The systems and processes fail to tap into what matters for the manager and focus on what they think ‘should’ matter. This gap gets even more accelerated between CEO’s and the executive management team who ignore the cues of the existing culture and impose assumptions about what ‘should’ work.

All this means that the role for manager’s and executives has changed from barking orders to setting direction and creating clear goals. Then it is about getting out of the way. This is where it gets tricky and there are two parts to the scenario.

1) IF the role of a manager has been to control and the need to be in charge is key to feeding one’s ego, getting out of the way is either not going to happen or it will be intermittent. This is really true of Boomers who have learned to ‘suck it up’ so they feel one way and act another. When feeling and action have been realigned things start to rock and roll. Horses do a masterful job of pointing out where someone is not in alignment. Equine-facilitated leadership development is well accepted in Europe, is emerging in the U.S. and is being advocated in Canada.

2) As pointed out in some managers prefer to contribute in an inspired way but are treated mechanically by outmoded notions that they need to be motivated. Intrinsic inspiration replaces external motivation. When they are all revved up and ready to go, unless the company is ruthlessly dedicated to learning and expansion of knowledge, chances are working teams will run smack into underlying cultural barriers, which means performance happens in spite of the culture not because of it. Extra effort and time to cut through the mental blocks and belief patterns can take some air out of fully inflated tires, and slow the pace.

The elements of self-actualized leadership that this triggers are self-identity (Who are you without your roles and clothes to define you?) and self-security (What value do you feel you have without the title, position, large office?). This is a time when leaders need to go deep into themselves to uncover any unresolved personal issues. Without the know-how to spot the gap between impulse and action, step into it to reflect before acting, managers and executives will be too tempted to put their fingers in the pie trying to add flavour when it is better left alone. Everyone is a leader. As Drucker said “Leaders are grown not made.”

Author's Bio: 

Dawna H. Jones brings over 25 years experience guiding individuals and organizations to the next level by mastering the invisible forces that drive creativity, innovation and personal fulfillment. She guides those who seek to guide themselves to a deeper and more whole place capable of surfing the speed of thought and leading from the heart. She hosts the Evolutionary Provocateur podcast with and is constantly pushing the learning edge to merge science, metaphysics, human and physical dynamics to optimal advantage. She can be reached at 1.866.605.0880.