Organisations can be places of mutually reinforcing patterns; patterns of thought, behaviour, even morality. What is considered acceptable practice for one company might be anathema to another. Blind eyes are often turned to abuses of power, bullying or negligence if witnesses feel that their own position may be under threat if they speak up.
All organisations have shadow sides, to a greater or lesser extent. People’s need to retain power and status can lead them to hide their mistakes from colleagues, and when those in a position of authority behave like this the result can spill over into the entire psychological structure of a business. These sorts of leaders rely on a cast of ‘yes men and women’ to protect their own interests. A tacit agreement, where the junior party follows and obeys without question in return for job security and even occasional promotion, allows this arrangement to embed itself within the organisational fabric.
Bureaucratic hierarchies are home to many such leaders, scattered throughout the various departments at different management levels. This often means that from top to bottom, people can be afraid to point out obvious failings and systemic illogicality for fear of conflicting with their own self-interest. In the worst cases, this can lead to high profile corporate scandals and failures, where even though people within the organisations knew about problems and could even provide solutions, they were ignored by senior leadership or too afraid to speak up in the first place.
Leading with love means choosing to shun these negative power dynamics and find freedom – whether we occupy a junior or senior role. To do this we need self-awareness and emotional maturity. We must be able to listen to our critics and address problems without feeling defensive, jealously guarding our own power or status. We need to let go of fear, and try instead to believe in ourselves, our people, and our values.
We should try to minimise the time we spend complaining, getting angry, or feeling like a victim. Even if our feelings are justified, this negativity serves to narrow our focus onto our own ego, limiting us and fostering a bitter, ruminating mindset. In the face of illogicality or injustice in our organisation we should try to remain positive, aligned with our intentions and bringing our values to bear on the external world.
Finally, we must recognise that we cannot change the behaviour of others: we only have control over ourselves. By blaming and criticising we are not actually changing anything in the external world, simply adding to our own bank of negative energy. We instigate change by modelling what we want to achieve in ourselves, by being that change and disavowing those negative behaviours and attitudes we come across.
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