LEADERSHIP IS NOT THE SAME AS DEMOCRACY.
POWER RESPONSIBILITY PASSIVE AGGRESSION AND COUPS
It has been an interesting couple of weeks with Brexit, the changes for Conservatives and Labour and a whole load of other business, domestic and parish club and community issues which all seem to have the same ingredients but in different quantities.
I shall try to avoid getting drawn on either side or the decision, but am curious about the people, personalities, process and product of this experience. It seems that all the above (Power Responsibility Passive Aggression and Coups) had their place at some point in the proceedings.
I doubt I can add any value to the debate given the huge amount of expert and less-expert opinion floating around on social media. What I might venture to do is explore what might be learned from this for anyone seeking to pursue any form of communication and engagement for their business, domestic and parish club and community initiative.
Soundbites and slogans matter because people don’t have the time, energy or sometimes comprehension to really tackle the issues and form an opinion.
People follow other people more than they follow principles. The voice of the crowd and a desire to belong and to be part of a team, will almost always compromise personal opinion. This may be seen as a bad thing (too easily coerced) or a good thing (willing to compromise).
Good news (it will be fine) or bad news (we will be doomed) is irrelevant if you don’t trust or believe the messenger.
Likeability (are they like me) appears to matter more than credibility (are they any good) when choosing to believe the messenger or not.
In pursuit of simplicity (in an effort to persuade) we often deny the complexity and truth (which might dampen people’s conviction). This is great when getting a simple decision but problematic when implementing a complex change. The risk is that you’ll find favour for the simple stuff and loose support when it gets to the difficult stuff.
Can you be a leader if you have no followers or lose them? Who are your important followers: those that execute your commands; those that elected you; or those whom you impact by your decisions?
This isn’t just about Conservatives and Labour. I see this in organisations and clubs. Does the CEO worry about their customers more than their colleagues? Does the Manager worry more about their Supporters or their Players?
You cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time. If you bend to everyone it seems to me you are not a leader. If you bend to nobody then you are most likely a dictator without any true leadership qualities.
I think leading with permission; leading with support and endorsement is the right balance since this demands both decision making but also diplomacy, democracy, and some humility.
LESSONS FOR POWER RESPONSIBILITY PASSIVE AGGRESSION AND COUPS
There are plenty of passive aggressive who will undermine and sabotage. These are people whose motive may be to destabilize and demoralise without the intellect or courage to offer up alternative plans or for themselves to take leadership. These are subversive bullies.
However it may be hard to discern these people from the iconoclast seeking to overthrow a tyrant or break the chains of oppression. If they don’t have the time, money, talent, or good fortune to be able to offer an alternative these people are victims and rebels.
The only true heroes straddle both the above: They may be without time, money, talent, or good fortune but they use passion and leadership to persuade. They may will seek to destabilize that which is wrong and offer up alternative plans for what is right.
If you encounter passive aggressive behaviour which seeks to destabilize and demoralise the change-management response would be to marginalise or remove. However if as a leader you listen to them and confer upon them some responsibility and accountability you become less of a tyrant and they become more a part of the solution.
It takes a very savvy leader to know what responsibility and accountability to confer upon someone else and how to make sure of responsibility and accountability, but ultimately this is likely to avoid the disruption and chaos of a coup or the distraction of fighting a rear-guard action in an effort to avoid a coup.
I love and often quote Harold Wilson: I’d rather have in in the tent p*ssing out than out of the tent p*ssing in.
This is much easier said than done, which is why to marginalise or remove dissent is the more usual action.
Leadership is not the same as Democracy.
I’m not sure which is better.
If you are interested in any of the above and would like to contribute to the discussion by posting a comment, or meet with me to chat about your experiences and the issues and opportunities in your organisation I would be delighted to meet and buy the coffee and croissants for an interesting conversation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Rogers is an AMPG Qualified Change Practitioner, a PRINCE2 Project Manager, with an MBA in Management Consultancy. Past projects have included the incorporation of Jersey Post Office, Operations Change and Sales Support for RBSI and NatWest and the integration and incorporation of Jersey Harbours and Airport. He is a tutor/lecturer for the Chartered Management Institute, a past curator for TEDx, Team manager for Jersey’s Triathlon Island Games Team and Performance Director for Jersey Rowing Club.