dinsdag 31 mei 2011

Everybody CEO

I want to expand a bit on the observation of a paradigm shift by which I concluded the previous message. Because that is quite a thing, a suchlike overturning of values, through which what was low-valued acquires more respectability: the real work, the trivial. If it were true, of course.

Confirmation of this trend may be found in the book Everybody CEO by Menno Lanting. In the book the author elaborates on the said paradigm shift, from contempt to appreciation for ordinary work, but now with the focus on organizations. He indicates the implications of this shift in the way we talk about work, leadership and management.

The impact of this shift may in fact be very large. Because the high esteem which traditionally exists with respect to thinking, overview and policymaking was always accompanied by a prestige for a certain - rather narrowly conceived - form of leadership and concomitant reward. That can not continue of course, once you call ‘everyone CEO’, because who is going to pay for that? Moreover, if you take seriously that slogan, then the monolithic image of The Real Leader pulverizes into many images of leadership, because then anyone can be one.

Then a leader is no longer necessarily dominant, or to be found at a distance from work, or heroically taking his the difficult decisions in utter solitude. Then leaders, as Lanting says, suddenly are to be found in the middle of organizations, close to the workfloor. Then it might be that the same people are leaders in one situation and followers in another.

Then it becomes conceivable that more leaders arise like Jos de Blok of a Dutch Neighbourhood Care organization who mentions as his main concern “that I don’t make my own role and position too big. I keep talking about ordinary things and professional content. I’m not really into management and management language and prefer to talk about client situations and the problems that professionals encounter. My assumption is that everything can be solved in the teams. This makes me to have the least (management) consulting as possible”.

This is truly revolutionary. Paradoxically, it means that we (temporarily) still need to rely on the heroic leadership which traditionally is in so high esteem. Indeed, there should be somebody to reduce the number of management meetings, to cut out overhead and to eliminate the woolly language in which we imprison each other. In short, to saw off the branch on which he sits. For a while there is still room for (very) heroic managers.