The people that are most helpful in any organization are those who take initiative, rather than simply doing what they are told. What organizations need from their people is engagement, not mere compliance. (And, conversely, this is what makes a job most satisfying — being engaged, rather than simply seeking to comply).
This has implications for managers as well. If you manage in a certain way (namely, with a command and control focus), you incentivize compliance. But if you realize that management is not about control, but rather about helping to unleash the talents of your people for the performance of the organization, and that this comes from trusting your people and granting them autonomy, then you see yourself not as the “boss,” but as a source of help.
A manager is a source of help and a catalyst, not a limiter or controller.
Godin touches on this well in his recent post “Moving Beyond Teachers and Bosses“:
We train kids to deal with teachers in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to work on. Figure out how to say back exactly what they want to hear, with the least amount of effort, and you are a ‘good student.’
We train employees to deal with bosses in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to do. Figure out how to do exactly what they want, with the least amount of effort, and the last risk of failure and you are a ‘good worker.’
The attitude of minimize is a matter of self-preservation. Raise the bar, the thinking goes, and the boss will work you harder and harder. Take initiative and you might fail, leading to a reprimand or termination (think about that word for a second… pretty frightening).
The linchpin, of course, can’t abide the attitude of minimize. It leaves no room for real growth and certainly doesn’t permit an individual to become irreplaceable.
If your boss is seen as a librarian, she becomes a resource, not a limit. If you view the people you work with as coaches, and your job as a platform, it can transform what you do each day, starting right now. “My boss won’t let me,” doesn’t deserve to be in your vocabulary. Instead, it can become, “I don’t want to do that because it’s not worth the time/resources.” (Or better, it can become, “go!”)
The opportunity of our age is to get out of this boss as teacher as taskmaster as limiter mindset. We need more from you than that.