Permission to discharge

By VUCA Blog

Why bosses should give themselves permission to be relieved.

Time and again, we read about the responsibilities of good managers in order to get motivated employees as a result of their leadership actions. There are a variety of personnel development programs, coaching, peer group sparring and much more to support this. At the organizational level, principles such as agile working are introduced or entire organizations are democratized.

Let's imagine it the other way around: What if employees motivated their bosses?

Some of this target group are probably asking themselves: "How would that work?"

It could work through trust and confidence. In the individual willingness of employees to take on clear responsibility and to contribute to the joint success of the business according to their personal possibilities and potential. We are talking here about people who enjoy coming to work because they want to be part of a greater whole, because they value belonging and teamwork, with whom more is probably possible than they were previously expected to achieve and who are therefore happy to get involved. Prerequisite: If the boss lets them!

"At home, people behave like responsible adults. Why do we treat them like adolescents with no freedom when they come to work?"

Ricardo Semler

And this is often the crux of the matter in many cases that I have observed as an organizational consultant and sparring partner for top managers. Instead of confidence and trust, many managers are still overly influenced by the factors of their own socialization as a manager, for example through

- role models that this manager had on their way to their own position,

- their "command & control leadership style", which they exemplified and expected,

- the implementation of management techniques taught in numerous leadership seminars - such as "correct" delegation or applied time management,

- their own pride in having conducted the annual performance review within the deadline relevant for the bonus payment,

- all the personal effort required to maintain the heroism of top management.

The list could go on with aspects that were still absolutely justified in an analog era, in the industrial age 3.0. After all, they often guaranteed the success of a company. So please don't take this as management bashing. If we look at the increasing degree of overload and permanent excessive demands, also because we live in a VUCA world, the question arises: What permission should managers give themselves to relieve themselves if they have been shaped by such socialization and would like things to be different?

Here are a few suggestions: It is about permission

- for a fundamentally positive view of human nature (e.g. according to Douglas McGregor), which assumes that people will give their best under the right conditions.

- Giving up responsibility. This goes hand in hand with the employee taking responsibility and clearly negotiating the benefits and consequences of doing so.

- for eye level. Always invoked, but not always implemented.  In addition to appreciative communication, this also includes the invitation to "lead your boss!". As a tangible consequence of a culture of responsibility and trust.

Another category of permission that is often given too little attention by managers should not go unmentioned.

These are the so-called drivers, inculcations and beliefs that make up the personal "life script" and have their origins in transactional analysis (according to Eric Berne and Thomas A. Harris). These include drivers such as "try hard!", "be strong!", "be perfect", "be fast!", "be pleasing!". Or inculcations such as "I'm not enough", "don't show anger!", "don't show your feelings!" or "don't be a child!".

Managers need to be aware of their own inner "commandments" and "prohibitions". It is the prerequisite for a change of perspective, a changed understanding of leadership, and enables a new personal decision and thus new behavior.

The result: Relief finds space and time. For everyone involved!

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