Thursday, April 29, 2010

People have to find their own way

At a meeting in Sydney and then drinks on a pub rooftop in the Rocks with my colleagues watching the sunset over the Opera House - and listening to the traffic and trains rumble over the Harbour Bridge just behind us.  

I got thinking about the reminder we had heard earlier in the day of the Cohen Brown 10 Elements of Good Leadership:

1. Vision
2. Goals
3. Plans
4. Actions
5. Results tracking
6. Follow up and feedback
7. Coaching
8. Resource Management
9. Motivation
10. Relationship Techniques

And the summary that Leaders have a vision, Managers follow a process.  Now I am not going to argue with Cohen Brown (CB) - the improvement in sales and revenue in so many organisations that have implemented CB speak for themselves.  The 10 Elements are so strong and obvious we forget them easily!
In the back of my mind though I was reflecting on something I had read earlier - which was an article about  Hans Monderman - the Dutch traffic engineer who was asked to resolve the problem of a high rate of accidents in a busy intersection in the Dutch town of Drachten.  He thought about it for a while and then decided to remove all rules, signs and lines from the intersection.  "Who has right of way? I don't care", he said.  "People have to find their own way, negotiate for themselves and use their own brains".  Accidents plummeted in the intersection and his approach became known globally in town planning management.
Monderman  recognized that increased control by the state actually reduced the  individual and collective responsibility of the citizens.
CB badly applied ignores this element of human nature - which is that people are essentially independent thinkers and don't like following a formula.  The art of the leader is to help people share a vision and then to help them work out how to implement it themselves.  
This particularly applies when your team is young and smart.

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