Managers and leaders often talk about “getting everyone on the same page”. While they think that in is more productive if everyone works in the same way, the opposite is true. The real reason managers and whole companies try to get everybody on the same page is because they are weak and afraid. They think that molding everyone into a set of company values and processes will create a unified army of workers. Many managers advocate this way of thinking. They believe that people will work better when they are more alike.
By trying to make every think and work alike, you weaken the differences between people. And very often, the differences between people lead to great results. By decreasing differences between people, you also kill creativity and natural flow. The feeling that you have to work in a described way by your manager makes most of us less motivated.
The real danger is when you try to turn people into something they are not — they will bring less energy and motivation to the task. Initially, people might be enthusiastic about a new direction. You see this effect with newly appointed managers — they believe that their strategy is working when everybody is excited to work according their vision. This new found enthusiasm is very real, and it works, but it will not last.
Instead of molding people into something you want them to be, relax and open up to people’s unique visions. As a leader, you can offer your people a framework so they can do their job. For instance, Steve Jobs wasn’t afraid to let Jony Ive flourish. Jobs knew better; he had fallen to the tyranny of fearful management by John Sculley. Not able to keep Jobs in check, Sculley made sure Jobs was fired.
Everyone has to be a leader sooner or later. Think of small projects you might have to lead with a handful of people That is enough to demonstrate your leadership. By not being afraid of people’s capabilities and talents, you can let them excel in what they do. Your confidence in other people’s ability to do their work will ultimately lead to better results — and better leadership.
Originally published at dariusforoux.com on August 28, 2015.