I’m continuing my series on an in-depth look at a wonderful little book that’s twenty years old this year. The title is Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson. You may want to consider dropping back and reading the previous blogs about ABSURD! I think it will put each new one in great context.
The paragraph in this chapter that rang true for me says, “Individuals are very strong, but organizations are not. Part of the reason why we don’t recognize the vulnerability of organization is that we have a hard time believing that the relationships which make them work are real. Even psychologists sometimes think of organizations as simply collections of individuals. But relationships – the bonds between people – are very real, and they have a life of their own. To a great extent they determine the behavior of an organization and the people within it.”
In my leadership book, Trust Me I talk about a couple of leaders:
These two leaders developed a very tight and trusting relationship with each member of their teams. Everyone talked of them as “great” leaders and the kind of bosses for whom employees would do anything. However, these two leaders would send one or more of their direct-reports off on a mission that was bound to conflict with a similar mission of another direct-report. The leaders, however, would never make any effort to help the direct-reports reconcile the conflicts. They would just let them bang against one another until one was victorious—Newton’s Cradle.
These leaders assumed the people who worked for them were strong and resilient, which indeed they were, but they had no sense that the relationship between the people was what actually created the company and culture. Their effort often destroyed relationships.
This issue also speaks to the concept of developing and growing teams. There is a model of team development that says teams move from Centralized to Transitional to Partnering and finally Highly Empowered: Self-Directed teams. The very first step from Centralized to Transitional speaks of this issue. Centralized teams can be viewed in the traditional hub and spoke model. The leader is the hub in the middle with a spoke extending out to each of the direct reports. However, there is no connection between the direct reports. As teams get better and better the connection between the team members becomes stronger, more reliable and more trusted until finally the team is functioning well as a single unit.
Trusting relationships are the key. If you’re not building TEAM, you’re not being a great leader.