Can we see the connection between healthy relations at work, and our ability to enable change in the world? One cannot be burnt-out and have a positive impact out there. This is common sense. So why is it that many organisations are not mindful of the quality of the relations in the workplace? Some beautiful thoughts from writer and management consultant Margaret Wheatley:
“I look carefully at a workplace’s capacity for healthy relationships. Not its organizational form in terms of tasks, functions, span of control, and hierarchies, but things more fundamental to strong relations. Do people know how to listen and speak to each other? To work well with diverse members? Do people have free access to one another throughout the organization? Are they trusted with open information? Do organizational values bring them together or keep them apart? Is collaboration truly honored? Can people speak truthfully to one another?
Because power is energy, it needs to flow through organizations; it cannot be bounded or designated to certain functions or levels. What gives power its charge, positive or negative, is the nature of the relationship. When power is shared in such workplace redesigns as participative management and self-managed teams, positive creative power abounds. For years, many people and researchers have described the positive impacts of these new relationships, power that shows up as significant increases in productivity and personal satisfaction.
In other workplaces, leaders attempt to force better results through coercion and competition; sometimes they exhibit a flagrant disregard for people and their abilities. In such organizations, a high level of energy is also created, but it’s entirely negative. Power becomes a problem, not a capacity. People use their creativity to work against these leaders, or in spite of them; they refuse to contribute positively to the organization.
The learning for all of us seems clear. If power is the capacity generated by our relationships, then we need to be attending to the quality of those relationships. We would do well to ponder the realization that love is the most potent source of power.”
From the wonderful book Leadership and the New Science. Discovering Order in a Chaotic World by Margaret Wheatley.