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Should Rolls Downhill

WorkIt never ceases to amaze me how many managers and executives think that they can impose change on their staff, but it does not apply to them.  I've been fortunate in that my recent clients do not share that philosophy.  Being a parent, I see so many parallels between work place leadership and parenthood.  Whether you like it or not, "the children" are always watching.  My wife and I still chuckle about our older daughter, Lauren.  When she was three and learning to dress herself, we heard the following emission:  "GRRRR!  C'mon pants... work with me, here!"  Yup, no doubt which parent she had overheard on that one (guilty as charged).

Meredith Farkas is a "techie librarian" (I say that with great respect) with an awesome blog called Information Wants to Be Free.  She had a recent post entitled Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.  In it, she talks about the example set at Eastman Kodak in adapting to the digital camera era and the difficulty they're now having in adapting to an evolving industry.  One just has to imagine the discussions that took place within the walls during the 90's.

Employee:  Dad, can we do digital photography?

Manager:  Son, how many times have I told you, "No we can't do digital photography"?  Our specialty is film.

Employee:  But Dad, all the other photography industry giants are going digital... why can't we?

Manager:  Son, if every other digital photography giant leapt off a bridge, would you follow them?

Employee:  Aw shucks, we never get to do anything fun here at Eastman Kodak.

Manager:  Go to your cubicle and don't come out until I tell you.

Employee:  Fine.  Be that way.

Remember, if you are not serving as a positive example, chances are good that you may be serving as a negative example, the type that they print in management textbooks for years to come for aspiring managers to learn from your mistakes.  However, your employees are watching every move you make.  You can't just tell their employees that they need to change and exempt yourself in the process.  Changes that you want to make to your organization will require you to change as well.  Are you prepared?

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Comments

Tom Haskins

Great post Tim I'm looking forward to your thoughts on how to change personally in ways that begin to change the snakes and bi-polar expresses in the office politics world.

A couple weeks back, I explored in a post "Escaping Linguistic Prisons" -- why those "more uphill than thou" types don't get it and expect others to change when forced to by higher ups. I wrote "They cannot do what works, make a positive difference or stop doing more harm than good. The outcomes and the effects of their conduct are "off radar". They see others objectively -- not subjectively, systematically or ecologically. Things will get better when others change. It makes no sense "to change the world by being the change". There's no objectivity in "change your mind and the world changes". There's no way the world would change by merely changing our language. Their linguistic prison overrules those escapes". -- After saying all that, the post has a surprise ending ;-)

Peace be with you!

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