- The end of Bossisn is coming, and it’s coming fast.
- A new kind of Boss is gathering ground.
- Organism Thinking explains why Servant Leadership works better.
- As managers we need to rethink everything we know about being in charge if we want our teams to be engaged and motivated and superperforming.
In a world where people are more empowered than ever to leave their current jobs, it’s important to understand why they’re doing it. The answer isn’t always clear, but one thing is — it often has something to do with the boss.
In fact, according to Gallup’s research into employee turnover, “the single biggest reason people leave their jobs is because of the boss.”
Truly people don’t leave companies—they leave bosses.
The end of Bossism is coming, and it’s coming fast.
The end of Bossism is coming, and it’s coming fast. A new kind of boss is emerging: one who helps the people they lead instead of trying to control them. This type of leader is most often referred to as a servant leader, and it’s pretty much the antithesis of what we’ve come to know as bad boss.
What does this mean for us as leaders? It means we need to rethink everything we know about being in charge if we want our teams to be engaged and motivated and superperforming.
The only image in Darwin’s entire Origin of Species was the Drawing of a Nested Hierarchy. Nature was screaming back to Charles Darwin, “Here I am!”, when he painstakingly drew this illustration for the book.
It is astonishing today to see the elegant symmetry of the nested hierarchy Darwin drew, which of course Darwin couldn’t recognize as nature revealing its symmetrical signature, because fractals and symmetry and algorithmic complexity were not a mathematical language that existed yet or were readily available to science. It wasn’t until fractal geometry came onto the scene in the 1970s that we had a way to think about nature this way. Mandelbrot coined the term “fractal” in 1975 to describe irregular shapes in nature and in mathematics that exhibit self-similarity—like snowflakes or broccoli or ferns, they look roughly the same at varying scales.
A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos.
While hierarchy is a natural requirement for stability and scalability, so is the connective tissue of functions or organs, the lateral connections. Total Quality Management theorist Karou Ishikawa described this as “warp and the woof” of organizations.
Now we know that fractal self-reference makes transformation simpler, bringing with it the freedom to sense and respond to customers and the environment as needed, yet maintain core identity and system integrity.
Bossism is a dysfunctional model because it’s locked in a paradigm of Machine View, which is great for machines but limiting for organisms. It creates an atmosphere of fear and dependence and top-heavy authority using the boss’s power of position as the main influencer. Those “beneath” the bad boss on the organization chart often feel just that – lower down, not lifted up like they feel when the boss is a Servant Leader. The result is an extrinsically motivated workforce that is not committed to transformational outcomes, only to a paycheck.
Increasingly, even a paycheck is not enough to hold onto talent in today’s world. Why? Bossism is unhealthy in a traditional business setting but becomes absolutely disastrous in a Digital-Knowledge world. Without the unleashed intrinsic motivation of workers, it will be impossible for companies to become adaptive, nimble, responsive, or self-organizing. As Drucker foretold, in the Digital-Knowledge Age, the productivity and motivation of knowledge workers become the primary goals. There is less and less space for Bossism in the 21st Century.
In conclusion, Servant Leadership and Bossism are like Fire and Water. By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop their skills to perform at their highest capacity.
Servant Leadership is the missing right brain of Superperformance, balancing the need for process with the need for culture, bringing alive the critical “C” in the PXC equation. Further this was a striking pattern in our Superperforming CEO research. We found the highest performing companies had CEOs who operated from the paradigm we called ” mind wide open”. Servant leadership supports self-organization, respect for the individual, and the freedom to grow to soar within the business. Servant Leaders beget Servant Leaders.
The evidence of Superperformance is pointing to the end of Bossism. In the Digital-Knowledge Age, intrinsic motivation (“want to”) culture is not a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. Intrinsic motivation is revolutionized through Servant Leadership. It is not an accident that the Agility movement has wholeheartedly embraced Servant Leadership. This is the only leadership that is possible for a practice that espouses lightweight, adaptable, accelerated action. Nothing less will do.
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Fractilium is a Corpus Optima Practice that integrates Organism Thinking, Servant Leadership, Super Change, and Agility to transform Bosses into Servant Leaders. Fractilium focuses uniquely on transforming managers into manager-leaders.
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