Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Balancing Entrepreneurial Drive within the Organizational Bureaucracy

Having worked with many entrepreneurs who are advancing their business dreams, I’ve come to see that collaboration may be more important today than ever! 

In today’s complex world, with increased security and environmental concerns, on top of intense global economic and competitive forces, it seems that the ‘Lone Ranger’ approach is more likely to leave you isolated than leading the pack.

Yet, the entrepreneurial spirit is not unique to the self employed and leaders of private business ventures. What about those who find themselves working within an organization? Where is the line that separates taking a daring leadership role, or ‘toeing the line’ and 'falling in' behind those with formal authority?

There is no doubt that moving forward requires leadership. Someone needs to take on that role or little will be accomplished. Every project, every initiative requires a champion with the vision to move the change process forward. Who is the one that will recognize the need, involve stakeholders, explore potential options, identify the best solution and take action that puts the best solution into place?

May I suggest that it's in that very question that the argument finds it’s Achilles heal. For I think that it's less likely that any ONE person will deliver the desired transformative results, and more plausible that a TEAM with a diverse set of skills and expertise will deliver the better solution.

Working together, with the input and perspective of others, we are in a better position to make the BEST decision on how to proceed. Each of us has an understanding of what needs to be done in the situations we face. Harnessing our collective talents and collaborating in an open, trusting environment - one that respects the team, as well as the decision making process, is more likely to succeed. It is therefore vitally important to understand the decision making process within the organization and respect the lines of authority in place to make those decisions.

Here is an extract from a related article from my friend, John Kuypers.  John is the president of Performance Shift Consulting and the author of the book, Who’s The Driver Anyway - Making The Shift To A Collaborative Team Culture. (Carswell Publishing) 

John talks about some of the accompanying challenges one may face when collaborating with others, and provides a vivid example from his past to illustrate. His advise is that, “... To collaborate successfully, you must be clear and upfront about who gets to decide, and to what degree, even if they make the ‘wrong’ decision. The payoff will be healthy relationships and an aligned team who performs to the maximum of their abilities. That is the most you can hope for as a leader.”

John also shares a wise tale from one of Aesop’s Fables. “It reveals a certain truth that each of us needs to learn in the workplace if we are to be successful in our roles.”

Here is how John relays the story in his article:
AT ONE TIME a very large and strong Wolf was born among the wolves, exceeded all his fellow-wolves in strength, size, and swiftness, so that they unanimously decided to call him "Lion." The Wolf, with a lack of sense proportioned to his enormous size, thought that they gave him this name in earnest, and, leaving his own race, consorted exclusively with the lions. An old sly Fox, seeing this, said, "May I never make myself so ridiculous as you do in your pride and self-conceit; for even though you have the size of a lion among wolves, in a herd of lions you are definitely a wolf."

Thanks for permission to quote from your article John! 

     The full text can be seen by clicking HERE.

And for more from John Kuypers, visit his Website at:



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