Leaders as the custodians of ‘The way we do things around here’

Rules evolve from the need to control. Often people governed by the rules have no idea where they came from. Why 30 mph as the speed limit in a built up area? Why does the shooting season start on the 12th August not the 11th? Why is 9:00pm the TV watershed? Why do I need a licence to have a radio station?

Once the rules are established we get custodians of the rules; usually the leaders in an organisation. People who have a stake in maintaining the rules and identify with them. They become emotionally attached to the prescribed way. Their function is to continually limit what can happen. As people start to push the boundaries, so new rules are created to stop this. We find rules prescribing ‘best practice’ which means that any other good practice is not allowed. And so a patriarchal mindset prevails: ‘we do it this way because we know best’.

Interestingly if you read the above paragraph again from the perspective of your own personal rules it becomes easy to understand why people find it hard to break from the norm. We create our own set of immutable legislation to which we become emotionally attached.

The odds are stack against making a step change in performance. The rules are set either formally or informally. They are governed by others and ourselves. They are also used as a credible excuse for inertia, so even when we can see that something is not functioning as we want we claim our hands are tied; there can be no more.

‘Cos everybody has sometimes broke the rules’ (Status Quo – ‘Legendary?’ Rock Group)

Where are the brave Leaders who recognise that this is a time of opportunity? How often does a genuine challenge to the way we do things arise, giving us the chance to question the rules we work within and those we set ourselves? Maybe this is the time for Leaders to change from being custodians of the rules to become promoters of innovation.
To find out more about our Training and Development Programmes focused upon Transformational Leadership contact: andy@paradigmantics.com

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