Tuesday, July 04, 2006

If You're Not the Boss of Me, Who Are You the Boss Of?

I was talking with my buddy Phil over at Make It Great (check out his new book, by the way!) and we were dialoguing about a post I wrote a while ago called "You're Not the Boss of Me" and it got me thinking.

If you're not the boss of me, who are you the boss of?

If we've got to be the boss of someone, let's start with ourselves. So many times we're all bent on changing someone else, whether that be our kids, our partners, our employees or even the guy at the corner coffee shop. But what about the person in the mirror?

"When faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof." -John Kenneth Gilbraith.

It's scary to think about changing ourselves, isn't it? Or maybe the problem is with the word "boss." Where does that word get its context?

Boss-ship doesn't work. That's where you tell someone to do something and your reason is "because I'm the boss." It might work for parents - for a while - but it never works for very long in a work situation.

Phil and I were talking about what it takes to motivate employees. Anyone who is in a position of authority within an organization has undoubtedly faced the dilemma of figuring out how to "motivate" employees.

So, what is motivation? Phil and I have differing opinions about that. Phil believes that motivation is internal - each person has to determine for him or herself what motivates him or her to perform. I believe that motivation is external. Someone else "motivates" you to perform. I believe inspiration (from the Greek in-spirit) comes from within and just needs to be tapped or uncovered by a leader who is more interested in each person's internal spark than the leader's idea.

I'm reading a book right now that was suggested to me by my good friend and colleague Dave Meier. The book is one of three (that I know of) by Robert E. Quinn and it's called "Building the Bridge as you Walk on It: A Guide for Leading Change" and it's fantastic.

It tells the story of how people have taken it upon themselves to make deep changes in themselves which have led to breakthroughs for their organizations. In essence, these people have become the "boss" of themselves, and have inspired Quinn to come up with a new model of leadership which he calls the "fundamental state of leadership."

I love that term because, really, what is fundamental but FUN and MENTAL with "DUH" in the middle?!? It should be the place we all want to reside because it allows us to be in charge of our own lives - to be the boss of ourselves.

Here's a nugget from this book: "Organizational excellence tends not to be a function of imitation. It tends to be a function of origination. It begins with one person - the one in ten who has the capacity to create productive community....The majority [of CEOs or leaders within organizations] are normal. And a few are extraordinary in that they know how to enter a creative personal state that gives rise to a creative collective state. I call that personal state the fundamental state of leadership" (pp.4-5).

So today, Independence Day, is a perfect day for all of us to declare our own independence from the ties of the past. Break free from the way you used to lead and enter the state of Deep Change (that's the first of Quinn's books where he introduces these changes we can all make for ourselves).

Today become the boss of you, and you'll see a profound difference in everything you do. I'd love to hear about the results you see around you when, as Ghandi said, you become the change you wish to see in the world.

Happy Independence Day!!


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