The Leadership Curse
There is a prophetic saying of Nietzsche's, "God is dead and man is free". It is supposed to be a milestone in the history of consciousness. I feel so tempted to replace the word God with the word Leader in the context of organizations, for in some organizations this will be a milestone in their history of its consciousness. The organizational consciousness, for the purpose of convenience, is nothing but a net of the consciousness of all its constituent members. The organizational problem I am concerned with is to do with a particular style of leadership which kills this collective consciousness of constituent members. Thus, the organizational consciousness is reduced to collective slavery instead. And, in such a situation, the organizational consciousness is merely the net consciousness of a few individuals or only an individual.
The very idea of a leader gives members a sense of relief; that they are not alone, that someone is looking after them; that the organization is not an organized chaos, but there is a system behind it and there is a meaning to it. May be I am not part of the meaning, but the meaning is there for sure and my leader knows it all. The leader brings in a tremendous sense of security and destiny. The leader in most cases is aware of this collective insecurity of his subjects, and he intends to, and in most cases he is trained to exploit the same. He quickly takes over the meaning creation process of the organization members by virtue of his bureaucratic controls and thrives in providing the organization its new meaning, a meaning which would serve his own interests.
Once the meaning creation process is hijacked, then everything goes the Henry Ford way, "You can choose any colour, provided it is black" – back then only black cars were available. In the organizational context, you are part of the meaning creation process, provided your answer is yes. If you cannot say no, what is the meaning of your yes? It is a corollary - yes has a meaning only if you are capable of saying no. This gives rise to organizational puppets, which exist in organizations of all kinds, with different names and rituals. It is really unfortunate that many intelligent people, with great education, also behave as organizational puppets with no real contribution to the organizational meaning creation process.
There is an inherent self-defeating element in the way modern organizations imbibe to this new order. On one hand the Leader has hijacked the organizational meaning creation process; on the other hand the responsibility and accountability for all actions resulting from such meaning creation is with everyone else in the organization, other than the Leader himself. But such is the capability of the Leader that people go on believing in this dichotomy. The religious minds of modern organizations lose their intelligence and completely forget the fact that these are incompatible things - the borrowing of meaning from the Leader and the individual meaning creation process. All management practices emanating from the above are bound to fail, for they do not represent the true meaning creation process for an organization, and consequently do not contribute to the organization's evolution. They are just an impasse in time, and are all set to disappear with the organizational death of the leader. Thus, the Leadership Curse ensures that the organization ends up serving the leader and not the other way round.