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Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

How to Unleash your Organization

September 21, 2011 5 comments

leadership businessAs companies grow, complexity and bureaucracy grow as well. As bureaucracy grows, agility, responsiveness and vitality decrease.

It’s an old story we’ve seen repeated many times—but the companies that are booming in this new economy have found a way off this ride.

They’ve uncovered—and exploited—a flaw in the premise that the only way to regulate the rising chaos of complexity is by adding regulations. Most organizations assume that growing complexity is the problem. It’s actually just a symptom.

Growing complexity only becomes an issue when it surpasses the ability of your people to handle it. Small businesses—where most businesses start—thrive because they operate in a low-complexity, high-talent environment. Simply trying to confine the chaos with rules is just treating the symptom. Instead focus on maintaining a high talent to complexity ratio.

As long as you can attract and retain enough quality people to off-balance your growing complexity, you’ll remain an agile and innovative organization—regardless of your size. A few ideas on managing that ratio:

1. Develop your Talent. Offer competitive salaries. Treat your top performers well. Offer them the freedom and tools to make a huge difference. Stick to your values and concentrate on your culture.

2. Prune your Bureaucracy. Choose simplicity over complexity. Review your system regularly for “policy creep” and get rid of it. Where you can, consider a values-based approach versus a policy-driven approach to aligning everyone’s behavior.

Bottom line, to stay relevant and responsive in today’s world, you’ve got to grow your people faster than you grow your business.

How is the talent to complexity ratio in your organization? What can you do to increase it?

4 Ways to Set Your People Free

September 19, 2011 7 comments

Freedom Leadership

I was 21 years old the first time I handed my passport to an armed guard at a checkpoint and entered what the UN calls an Occupied Territory. It was the summer of ’95 and I was driving into the Gaza Strip.

Over the next few weeks, oppression and I became good friends.

Old Kahlid, after treating me to lunch in his house made from scrap and rubble, showed me the deed for his home in Tel Aviv—a document that meant nothing the day the soldiers came and forced him out. Yet he still clings to it.

8-year-old Mohammed, a bright, young soccer player, reminded me of myself at his age. Except, of course, I had just completed my engineering degree and was 6,000 miles from home while he was prohibited from studying engineering or traveling more than 30 miles from where he was born.

Last week I shared my 3 core values as a leader, the first of which is Freedom. I believe it’s my job to free people & organizations to be their best. My experiences in Gaza kindled my hatred of oppression as well as my passion for helping set others free.

What I’ve learned since then: You don’t have to go to Gaza to find oppressed people. They’re everywhere. Sometimes the oppression is on the surface, other times the shackles are deep inside.

Here are 4 types of freedom you can fight for in those you lead. As you go down the list, the oppression grows stronger, but the potential freedom grows more powerful as well.

1. Physical Freedom. Are your followers free to work where, when and how they want? Do they have a degree of autonomy that corresponds to their abilities and responsibility?

2. Intellectual Freedom. Do your constituents have permission to think outside the conventional way of doing things? Are you encouraging them to stretch themselves mentally?

3. Emotional Freedom. Are those you lead comfortable telling you how they really feel? Are they operating free of fear, listening to their intuition, and managing their emotions well?

4. Spiritual Freedom. Do they see and believe the truth about themselves, their leaders, and their organization—or are they bound up by lies? Do they have hope? Can they see a better future?

We were made to be free. And the more you free someone, the more alive they become. Which, by the way, is exactly what our organization needs!

Have you ever been set free by a leader? How do you set your people free?

Letting Good Things Run Wild

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

leadership freedomI’m always amazed when people approach discipline and freedom as opposite ends of a spectrum. As if discipline restricted freedom and freedom was by definition void of discipline. If they must be opposites, they’re opposite sides of the same coin. I believe any other view dilutes – if not destroys – them both.

Discipline generates and maintains freedom. If we eat well and exercise, we’re free to live a healthy, active life. If my 3-year-old always stops at the curb, he’s free to run ahead of me.

Likewise, freedom without discipline is chaos. If I don’t maintain my calendar I miss appointments I care about. If I don’t clean my room, I can’t find what I need when I need it.

One of my favorite authors, G.K. Chesterton, shares this gem about Christianity in his masterpiece, Orthodoxy, and I think it applies to discipline as well:

…the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.

The purpose of discipline is to let good things run wild. The next time you’re not “feeling it” – whether its sticking to your diet, getting up to run, meeting with an accountability partner, confronting a coworker, or enforcing a standard – remember the purpose of discipline. Fix your eyes on the good things that your discipline will set free.

What discipline do you struggle with the most?

What good things does it unleash?