The days of control and conformity are over, and it’s within our power to bring today’s workplace up to speed. All it takes is some guts.
A young man dives from a 30-foot cliff over a waterfall inside Casa Bonita, a Mexican-themed “entertainment” restaurant in Denver, Colo. That’s his job; he dives again and again for the enjoyment of dining patrons. Between dives he admits, “I have yet to have a day where I don’t want to go to work.”
Most people aren’t that lucky or brave. We don’t often get to practice our craft again and again, let alone get cheered on to dive in or climb back up. Doing it every day doesn’t mean it doesn’t require courage, that it’s not hard, or that there aren’t risks; there are just more reasons to keep doing it in spite of the what-ifs.
Leadership, in large part, requires jumping in head first, lapping back and forth, occasionally leading a pack, but often leaping alone, usually in a race against the next guy. But for all the talk of collaboration and big ideas, new business practices, and social reach, most work hasn’t changed much.
Fundamental people practices in modern companies were forged in an era when control and conformity were thought useful. Today, we know they stifle creativity and customer focus at a time when companies fail on less.
As we seek options for ourselves, we don’t always think to remind people there are collective options to elevate us as a species. As Diana Korte, a women’s health advocate, once wrote, “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”
Our digital world accelerates change and gives us an opportunity to be more of who we are. With almost unlimited access to information, we also have a greater understanding that the world needs our help. We expect twists and turns in our journey, but where we are today shouldn’t suck.
It’s time for work to change. Here are four ways leaders can push work forward.