Frédéric Laloux gives a unique speech about „the unnecessary pain of leadership“ at Egon Zehender’s Neujahrsempfang 2020, which I was happy to be part of. His vision and beliefs make him dare to confront a selected group of German C-level executives with the unhappiness of top leaders and how current organizational systems “cheat” on them. In his research and interviews of executives around the world, he has learned about the following six pain-points of our top leaders. Not all of them need to resonate with each of you, but some might well do.
- The workload and work-life imbalance – this is the most obvious and publicly acknowledge impact.
- The lack of opportunities to be creative – when starting a career one gets the opportunity to drive an initiative or alike and create something new, which is both fun and a great motivator. These creative opportunities cease when getting up the ladder.
- The need to project to others that one knows everything – this results in the need to either hide doubts or acknowledge them, which both can lead to psychological patterns; in any way this personal change always impacts on the private life.
- The pressure to be special – this need arises to justify the position in hierarchy and its resulting overproportioned salary income.
- The constant spotlight – being under permanent public review leads to behavior changes, so leader’s become very careful and thoughtful how they speak and interact; often taking away the true personality and authenticity.
- The hierarchical power taints relationships – once at the top leaders wonder whether interactions are authentic or corrupted by influential and strategic matters; this makes leadership a lonely sport.
So, what is in the game to win when giving up hierarchical structures and move to self-managed organizations.
- Time – by sharing decision making responsibilities and capabilities among the organization it frees up time
- Additional Roles – this available time can now be devoted to taking on additional roles e.g. a project/initiative lead or being a team member or taking on a customer contact role
- Real relationships – when this power misbalance is overcome, leaders can again enter authentic and true relationships and very often be happy again
Thanks Frédéric for being a pioneer and speaking out for all other pioneers on this journey.