Seth Godin on Control

I didn’t know that Seth Godin had released a new book called “Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?” until I read his blog this morning. I found it on Amazon but am going to wait until it comes to iTunes as an audiobook.

While browsing the Huffington Post tonight I came across an article Godin wrote called “Is Control the Answer”.  A few passages struck a chord:

I don’t think it’s an accident that corporations and governments have similar structures.

CEOs are a lot like kings and presidents. They’ve got power and perks and deniability. They order people around, pretend to be infallible and are apparently hired to think big thoughts…

But in business, we’re seeing a divergence. Quite suddenly, markets and systems are changing so fast that top down control isn’t the asset it used to be.

…if your business deals in ideas, control will stifle them. If your organization deals with the public, control will inevitably alienate your best customers.

Power in a world without control doesn’t happen just because you’re elected or appointed or have a great title. Now, power comes from connection and leadership and respect. The way you treat people (all of them, even those without apparent authority) comes back to you again and again, which means that our new leaders embrace dignity and respect instead of the traditional trappings of top down organizations.

I especially enjoyed the part about how leadership is gained through respect and how you treat people. Not just in good times but bad.

It’s human nature to route around those who attempt to control our freedom.

I’ve experienced this with my children. The minute I block off an area of the house, my two-year old sets off on a quest to gain access to that area.

As a teen, I had little interest in drinking Coke until my parents banned it from the house. Once I knew they didn’t approve, I bought one every day.

And when the IT head at a company I used to work for banned instant messaging, the tech savvy showed everyone (including marketing and sales) how to use Meebo.

Next time you exert control over someone, it may be useful to consider what reaction you’ve encouraged. Because the reaction might cause more damage than had you left control with the individual.

I need to remember this advice when dealing with those I manage and those I’m responsible for at home.