Leader, what makes you sleep soundly?
The culture of fear at workplaces and leading by shouting have been discussed a lot here lately. There’s a lot complaining, how the atmosphere is stagnant why Finnish companies don’t innovate and prosper.
And people pitch in, without any further thought, because it’s all over social and traditional media. Since we feel so hopeless, let’s add fuel to the fire and sling mud all around us.
Luckily this is not the whole story. There are people in Finland whose truth looks different. They just don’t shout it from the rooftops. They don’t have to tell everyone how bad they feel, because they are actually fine and sleep soundly through the night. They don’t have an audience (yet), as they seem a little weird. They take charge of their own lives, work a lot without complaining – trusting that life will sort itself out.
They believe that people are essentially good. So they cooperate with others, trusting and respecting them and taking responsibility. In a culture like this, people try new things and sometimes fail. But that’s OK. When companies are run like this, the leaders are internal advisors; employees decide for themselves how to manage their work.
This kind of organizational culture is not a utopia. In his book Reinventing Organizations, Fredric Laloux presents a study, which shows it is reality in thousands of companies today. In Finland, there are a few of these so-called self-managing organizations, and I’m privileged to know some of their leaders.
According to Laloux, employees in self-managing organizations feel their work has a meaning and they can make decisions about their own work much more efficiently than leaders the top of the pyramid. This method has boosted e.g. healthcare and elder care, increased customer and employee satisfaction and significantly improved profitability.
Changing from a traditional, performance-based organization to a self-managing one doesn’t happen overnight. Top management needs to be committed to change and consciously aware of how things stand. This requires little acts every day, stopping to listen to yourself and others. Insight into how your choices affect others and taking responsibility for every decision, big or small. However, the most difficult thing for many leaders may be that this kind of leadership requires leaving your own at the door.
So mud slinger, feel free to make a racket. A new time and way of doing things are coming to Finland. While waiting for it to happen, we who believe in a better tomorrow will continue to work hard and say hello to one another, as recognising each other is easy in this small country.
You’re welcome to hear more about the subject during our Gurutalk event on Friday morning, November 27. Our theme will be transformation leadership. Our guest speaker Panu Liira (Director, Leadership & Organizational Development) will tell us how self-management works at Reaktor.