Leading in order to empower others

Managers have to be aware of their social responsibility since their influence on employees’ development, life, and indirectly also on the life of employees’ families, can be very profound, positive, or negative. This holds true for all dimensions – material, emotional, and spiritual. When the innate strength of a conscious leader entwines with the formal, extrinsic power of an organization’s manager, this responsibility becomes even greater.

A conscious leader understands that, as in nature, nothing is constant in a company. Events are unforeseeable and the wish to control all the processes is often merely an illusion. Hence we sometimes must learn to go with the flow and let the events unfold by themselves rather than resorting to fruitless attempts to control them.

It is usually very difficult to make such leap in consciousness because managers usually strive to have everything under control. Managers have to be aware, however, that their excessive meddling takes away their colleagues’ opportunities to learn and develop. It is advisable that managers assume a bird’s eye view and follow the events from a comprehensive perspective, intervening and providing guidance only when organization’s goals are threatened.

Considering all the changes that take place in business environments as well as in people, management also has to change but leaders too often resort to old patterns. For instance, we think that an extrinsic encouragement is the one that sparks motivation for finding new ideas and solutions to problems. But we forget that it is human nature to be curious and creative and that, as holistic human beings, we want to pursue meaning in our work. By using the carrot and stick approach, we often unintentionally curb employees’ intrinsic motivation which can lead to poorer results, especially as regards creative and more challenging tasks. Daniel Pink illustrates this with the idea of Motivation 3.0 which takes into account the thus far neglected dimension of a human being –the deeply felt need to find meaning in our lives, the drive to create new things, and to serve ourselves and the community: “When rewards and punishments encounter our third drive, something akin to behavioral quantum mechanics seems to take over and strange things begin to happen. […] The rewards narrowed people’s focus and blinkered the wide view that might have allowed them to see new uses for old objects. […] What is true is that mixing rewards with inherently interesting, creative, or noble tasks—deploying them without understanding the peculiar science of motivation—is a very dangerous game.”

Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more. They are committed to their work and due to their drive to attain new knowledge and achieve something permanent, they can also weather the tough times.