The use of too much authority or the absence of authority are equally disastrous. The culture created by authoritarianism is well known. The culture encouraged by a vacuum of leadership is one of confusion, delay, and unproductive anxiety leading to increases in safety incidents, lower morale, higher turnover, and absenteeism.
Historically, the idea of the business owner as an authoritarian figure, dominating the lives and minds of his employees, ushered in the 20th Century. Later, the other extreme, popularly conceived as an authority-free style where all participants make decisions, was manifest in a variety of ways under names like consensus or participative management, servant leadership, 9/9 leadership, autonomous or self-managed teams. Both extremes fail. A management strategy which integrates these extremes is needed. The story that begins in Chapter 1 of my latest book illustrates how any organization can find that elusive blend. The final chapter explains the role that authenticity—being who you are— and productivity—achieving the organization’s goals—play in that intertwining.
The positive intent of authority, of course, is to get things done. The negative intent and frequent consequence is to run roughshod over people. The positive intent of consensus is to significantly involve people in decision-making. The negative intent and frequent consequence is to stifle action and give power to the most stubborn. The intertwining of the positives is a major theme of my book which you can ordeer from our website at http://www.crosbyod.com.
Excerpted from: Robert P. Crosby. “Cultural Change in Organizations” Vivo! Publishing Co., Inc., 2011