If you think about the modern employer-employee relationship, we as employees show up in an organization and we’re in a very vulnerable space. We have very little formal power. We’re showing up and we are at the whims of the boss. We’re the heroic leaders. If you’re showing up as a leader you’re going to get projected upon you all of the expectations of everybody that you lead. It’s a parent-child dynamic. They are looking to you as the heroic father figure, the heroic leader to address their tensions for them. That’s as much of a burden on you as it is a lack of a power for them.
That’s a very difficult system and I think a lot of the cries today are for better leaders, better heroic leaders, better parental figures that will lead us better and I think the interesting power shift that this method I use points to is what happens when we stop asking for better heroic leaders and we put in place a system that distributes power, so that we don’t need heroic leaders to save us, rather so that each of us shows up not as an employee subject to the whims of the broader employer and the leader and the boss, but shows up with our own voice and our own power and our own integrity.
If you’re that leader you can show up and say it’s not my job to process your tensions, it’s not my job to heroically step in and save you, I'm going to process my own tensions as best I can and we’re in an environment where we are fundamentally peers even as we take on different roles and those roles have different authorities. We can still show up as humans together in a way that owns our reality where nobody is a victim. It takes a power structure to do it in the same way that we shift from our monarchies and feudal empires where there is a clear top-down component into our modern democracies where you don’t need an empowering king.
And you don’t need a king to empower you. You don’t need a feudal lord to empower you. You have fundamental liberty and freedom and the ability to process your own ambitions and tensions and all that. We need a similar shift I think in our organizations.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.