From patriarchy to partnership

Lisa Gill writes about better organizations.

Gallup’s latest poll tells us only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged at work; productivity is down; people are burning out at work; technology continues to disrupt the norms. 

I hear the same two complaints. From leaders, managers and founders: “No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get my team to take initiative or be truly responsible for their work!” And from everyone else: “If only my manager/the leadership team/the founder would butt out and let us come up with our own solutions, we’d be so much more effective!” 

“We already know how to be good parents at work. The alternative, partnership, is something we are just learning about. Our difficulty with creating partnership is that parenting — and its stronger cousin, patriarchy — is so deeply ingrained in our muscle memory and armature that we don’t even realise we are doing it.” 

Peter Block, “Stewardship”

This is something I’ve experienced from both sides. From clients or bosses who partner with me to co-workers or collaborators who don’t know how to tap into their own autonomy and make things happen without permission of an authority figure.

“In all of these struggles, it is being human that creates the problem. We have not yet learned how to be together. Western culture, even as it continues to influence people everywhere, has not prepared us to work together in this new world of relationships.”

Margaret Wheatley, “Leadership and the New Science” 

There is a word for collaboration in schools: cheating.

The most effective teams at Google, Amy found, were able to talk openly about mistakes, give each other candid feedback, and be radically honest with each other.





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