EGOS, sometimes bigger than their people. If it weren’t for the egos, it could have succeeded. I’ll start at the beginning.
Seven years ago Zappos pushed his organizational holocracy, a non-hierarchical management model. In other words, a model without bosses. How do you see it? Wait… how does it feel?
It’s different how we can see it rationally, from what we have been told and learned, and how we can feel it from our intuition without the “it should be like this…”. We are living a flattening of hierarchical structures, the empowerment (at least verbally) of people in their positions, and the drive for transversality and agile methodologies to work in diverse teams, take advantage of the internal potential and reach further and better in less time. All this would seem to bring us closer to the holocracies in their way of working, but nevertheless, they have not managed to spread throughout the business geography.
There will be a billion reasons why this management model has not fully taken hold, but here and now I want to focus on just one: ego. What is the ego? The Royal Spanish Academy defines it as ‘excessive self-esteem’. We will keep this, and leave the ‘buts’ of this definition (not few) for another time. Having this definition in mind, how would a group of people with ego, that is, with excessive self-esteem, work in a self-organized and self-managed way? Aha, that’s what I wanted to get at. When we meet several people with excessive self-esteem, the struggle of ‘who is more’ is unconsciously (and often consciously) prioritized over any other individual or collective objective.
When we meet several people with excessive self-esteem, the struggle of ‘who is more’ is unconsciously (and often consciously) prioritized over any other individual or collective objective…
Rather, this struggle of egos underlies any individual or collective action and decision, which automatically cancels out the sustainability of a self-managed group because ‘being more’ means being above others in some respect, breaking the balance of forces, and creating a silent hierarchy. In addition, if in that same group there were someone without the need to feed their ego, there would probably come a time when they would feel undervalued and frustrated, since the existence of ‘who is more’ would automatically lead to ‘who is less’, bringing us back to the law of the strongest.
When the reinforcement of the ‘I’ becomes the ultimate objective, the self-organized team as such is doomed to failure. If instead, we worked and reinforced healthy self-esteem, and valued the strengths of each one as a unique piece to achieve the perfect gear of the organization, the team would have good self-knowledge, and enough flexibility to face the different ups and downs of the circumstances, and approach an agile and productive holocracy.
Easy? No. Possible? I believe it is. It’s all part of a reinterpretation of learned rules. From transforming ego into self-esteem, transforming competition into collaboration, and transforming control into confidence. Of getting the perfect gear. Egos, sometimes bigger than their people. If it weren’t for egos, it would have succeeded.
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