Who leads an anarchy? LO29179

From: Jan Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Date: 09/16/02

Replying to LO29164 --

Dear Alan, reader,

I think i start to understand the question: when to take control, to lead,
to manage or when to let the group, the team work, manage for itself?

When i worked as a production manager, i tried not to be in control. I had
been taught "situational leadership" in this way:

 1. when there is no problem, make sure you're not needed (do not manage
(or lead, or control)).

 2. when there is a problem, make sure you're not needed too.

My solution to pro-active crisis-management is to enable a group or team
to solve the problem themselves. You must have confidence in people, in a
group, you usually can trust them to solve their own problems and when
they need leadership (management, control) they'll ask for it. The issue -
i suppose - is to rely on a group for asking to become dependent on
somebody (a manager, a leader, a boss) and when the question, the
requirement comes, to evaluate the true needs of the group. Sometimes you
can accept the question, the need, sometime not. If you think the group
can or must (perhaps it has to learn: they are not yet able to solve it
themselves) solve the problem themselves - that is when the problem is
connected to their own self-image, self-esteem - you must be able to
refuse helping them. Not by saying no, off course, but by supporting the
investigation into the reasons behind the call for leadership. Or by
telling a story.

As i've written earlier, groups tend to shift the problem, the burden to a
manager or leader. Perhaps leadership was "free" or "common". As it has
been used too easily by too many groups we're now facing a tragedy of the
commons regarding leadership. The flock has grown unable to lead itself
and the management is meagre. Wouldn't this lead us to an anarchy we
cannot solve with traditional means?

I've seen a documentary on the life and works of Winston Churchill - a
fine example of how good and bad are inseparably mixed. And how a leader
seems to emerge when the circumstances arise.

Kind regards,

Jan Lelie

Alan Cotterell wrote:

>Dear Jan, As a manager I always made sure my 'subordinates' had sufficient
>information to self-manage their work situation. That's not to say I
>wouldn't immediately take control in an emergency (you don't do TQM with
>your emergency services).
>The big secret is to be proactive, and plan for crises, not manage on an
>ad hoc/crisis management basis.


Jan Lelie <janlelie@wxs.nl>

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