By Workplace Peace Institute
Reimagining organizations by devising an innovative model that encourages productive, fulfilled, and engaged employees.
At some point in our lives, most of us have experienced impossibly high expectations in the workplace that ultimately influence our ability to experience our individual worth and value as contributors. These expectations are often met with disciplinary responses when we fail. Many of us have also experienced management techniques that are intentionally punitive, and most of us have, at one time or another, been micromanaged.
These are all techniques associated with Red, Amber, and Orange organizations, which rely on traditional leadership styles that hoard power at the top of the organization and depend heavily on directive, command and control techniques that have their roots in the industrial revolution.
Traditional leadership styles were born out of the Newtonian concept that force must be applied in order to achieve motion and that the amount of force applied is directly proportional to the amount of movement achieved. These systems of coercion and dominance are familiar to us all. You may even recognize these techniques in your own leadership team.
We are no longer living in the Industrial Age, and these approaches to organizational productivity no longer work. And yet, they persist in the workplace.
What is also familiar is the demoralizing and de-incentivizing effect this approach to leadership has on individual contributors. In fact, it is one reason why research by Gallup, Inc. consistently finds that 80 percent of American employees are actively disengaged at work. 80 percent. Traditional leadership styles diminish morale which leads to diminished organizational productively, and therefore, diminished profitability.
There is a more effective way to lead that shifts focus from old Newtonian principles to the principles of quantum theory. Quantum theory, the theoretical basis of modern physics, explains the nature and behavior of matter and energy on the atomic and subatomic level. In her book, Leadership and the New Science, leadership consultant Margaret Wheatley provides a layman’s explanation:
In the quantum world, relationship is the key determiner to everything. Subatomic particles come into form and are observed only as they are in relationship to something else. They do not exist as independent things. There are no basic building blocks. Quantum physics paints a strange yet enticing view of a world that, as Heisenberg characterized it, 'appears as a complicated tissue of events, in which connections of different kinds alternate or overlap or combine and thereby determine the texture of the whole.' These unseen connections between what were previously thought to be separate entities are the fundamental ingredient of all creation.
In other words, in a quantum world, everything is about relationship. In quantum physics, everything exists in an interconnected and deeply intimate order. And, everything exists only in relationship — a constant weaving and merging of energy and change. This principle of quantum physics asserts that what happens to one individual has an effect on another. In his book Quantum Theory, physicists David Bohm explains that, “… the quantum theory possesses a very complete internal unity, such that each part works together with the others in an interlocking way, and such that the whole theory would fail unless each part were present.” Wheatley draws connections between the quantum world and the corporate world. In Leadership and the New Science, she writes,
To live in a quantum world, to weave here and there with ease and grace, we need to change what we do. We need fewer descriptions of tasks and instead learn how to facilitate process. We need to become savvy about how to foster relationships, how to nurture growth and development. All of us need to become better at listening, conversing, respecting one another’s uniqueness, because these are essential for strong relationships. The era of the rugged individual has been replaced by the era of the team player. But this is only the beginning. The quantum world has demolished the concept that we are unconnected individuals. More and more relationships are in store for us, out there in the vast web of life.
Wheatley explains what this means to the old “command and control” Newtonian Organization where power resides exclusively at the top of the organization. In a quantum organization, power is redistributed across the organization. "Power in organizations is the capacity generated by relationships. It is an energy that comes into existence through relationships. An organization’s capacity for healthy relationships — not its organizational form in terms of tasks, functions, span of control and hierarchies — is more fundamental to strong relations.”
Green organizations are emerging into the quantum concept. Turquoise and Teal organizations are Quantum Organizations.
In these Turquoise and Teal organizations, leaders cultivate the ability for individual contributors and managers to listen and speak to one another openly and transparently. Leaders hire diverse teams and work effectively with them. All people, regardless of title or role, have access to one another and they are trusted with open and transparent information. Organizational values are well defined, known by all, and consistently used as the foundation from which all work is performed. Collaboration is deeply valued, implemented, and expected. And, importantly, honesty is expected and honored.
The following chart created by Steve Piersanti of Berrett-Koehler Publishers differentiates Newtonian Organizations and their Traditional Leadership Style and Quantum Organizations and their New Paradigm Leadership Style.
Quantum Organizations are fueled by the evolutionary power of life. Leadership is tasked with implementing a power-sharing model that allows the organization to develop, evolve and grow organically and in alignment with its own evolutionary purpose and that of the members. The following attributes are key characteristics of a Quantum Organization:
Collaborative management between leadership and contributors
Collaborative problem-solving that puts those closest to the problem closest to the solution
Leaders guide, advise, coach, mentor, and cheer others
Individual autonomy of all organizational members
Wholeness is cultivated for all members
The organization is aligned to its own evolutionary purpose and that of its members
Quantum Organizations are highly engaged workplaces where dignity is consistently honored and experienced. Leaders understand their role as primarily advocates and encouragers, and therefore effectively optimize employee engagement. This increased employee engagement which is brought about through a relational model that honors dignity and human security leads to increased organizational productivity and improved profitability. Growth is a result of relationship rather than coercion.
Workplace Peace Institute Leadership Academy provides leaders with the knowledge of human behavior, communication skills, and conflict resolution competencies to create highly engaged workplaces where dignity is consistently honored. If you are ready to reimagine your workplace, contact Workplace Peace Institute today for a complimentary consultation.
Workplace Peace Institute is an organizational systems design and research firm that brings a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to organizational development. We support small to mid-sized businesses in optimizing employee engagement, maximizing organizational productivity, and improving profitability by infusing human security and dignity as foundational attributes of their business model.