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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 22-Oct-10


Friday 22-October-10

The new frontier

A century ago, Frederick Taylor devised a system of 'Scientific Management' whereby organizations were like organisms, with managers as the brains and the workers as obedient limbs. Typical of his system was the design of shovels and shoveling movement that maximized the amount of coal a man could move in an hour.
With the rise of modern industry, however, it was realized that 'leaving your brain at the gate' was a limiting strategy. We now need people to think about what they do, to engage in improvement and invention, to bring their brains with them and intellectually engage with the organization.

Taylor, however, lingers. The notion of 'rational man' is still attractive to many managers as they recoil in horror at the mess of human emotion with which they are regularly faced. If truth be known, we often wish that our people would bring their brains with them but leave their emotions at the gate.

Even those who recognize emotions play a tacit game of collusion with the view that emotions are not really a good thing in work. Daniel Goleman's 'Emotional Intelligence' plays directly to the notion of emotional control. Recognizing and managing our feelings and the feelings of others includes a significant and often-unspoken element of suppression.

And yet we talk so often about the importance of motivation. We seek people with energy and passion who will go the extra mile. We want supercharged teams who will streak past the competition. We need leaders who will ignite whole corporations, motivating them to new heights.

It is no coincidence that 'motivation' and 'emotion' are such similar words as emotions are indeed what drive us. Emotions may be behind many of the negative things we do, but they are also at the root of all positive action. They are the fuel of our actions and are the reward of our achievements. We develop desire to meet needs and achieve goals and feel satisfaction and exhilaration when we achieve them.

Emotional intelligence is thus not enough: we need emotional leadership and management. It is not enough to recognize emotions -- we must be able to stimulate and channel them too. To improve in this we must learn more about what turns people on and what turns people off. We must be able to reach inside and remove the blocks that prevent them from moving forward.

Whilst great leaders of the past have instinctively known how to motivate, we now must make much more of an explicit skill. If we can turn emotional intelligence into emotional management and leadership, then the world might truly be our pearl-laden oyster.

Your comments

In addition to recognizing, stimulating and channeling emotions I think we must create avenues in organizations that facilitate motivation, energy and passion. In my change management work I often find stakeholders willing to participate faced with obviously flawed strategy and executives a little overwhelmed by the size and complexity of change.

Change that makes sense is the foundation for all of the above. Emotional leadership is yes, crucial, as is sound management.

The key here might be executives taking an "emotional pause" in order to be individual stakeholders themselves. This level of emotional intelligence is, unfortunately, rare.

-- Garrett G

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