After a few meetings he was determined not to force anything or to be angry at anyone. By being angry we only build a cage for ourselves. Most importantly he realised he must put himself first. Business is a part of life, just like love, friends and even challenges are. By realising all of this, he would be able to positively influence his new work environment. Despite his new awareness and discoveries, he had not solved his personal problems yet.
Challenges and problems are part of life and we need to solve them as they arise. At one of our meetings he told me that from now on he is going to like himself and that he will lead by example and show others they need to like and respect themselves. He was convinced that that is the only way they could be useful to themselves and to the company. Our meetings gradually bore fruit. Contentious relations within the company were resolved, upper management meetings became more creative and there were fewer mutual accusations. After I had worked with the director for five weeks, the management board had become quite a pleasant team. Co-workers also noticed his new approach to leadership and began to support the director despite their initial disapproval of him.
Not everything was perfect, by any means. Some managers were still having trouble accepting the changes, resistance which was largely dependent on their life experiences and personality characteristics. But most were happy with the new approach. I let them know that I could also help them cut ties with their old behaviour patterns. We agreed for me to spend one hour with each manager.
The administrative manager was a brilliant student as a child. Schoolmates often teased him, calling him a nerd, and never entirely accepted him into their circle. He was always pushed aside, except when the end of semester was approaching. That was when they wanted to be friends with him – of course just for as long as they needed him. He put up with this but inside felt rejected. He didn’t socialise with anyone during his free time. He came from an average working family who could afford an average life, spending their evenings in front of the telly.
His parents didn’t spend much time with him, they had enough troubles of their own. The father drank too much on occasion and this sometimes led to violence. All this time, anger and resentment were festering inside him. When he was choosing what to study, he picked law. He thought that as a lawyer he could defend himself if anyone were ever to try to take advantage of him again, or even take revenge via a legal path. Since studying law didn’t meet his expectations, he decided to continue his postgraduate studies in human resources.
I had memorised his words from the very first meeting: ‘… so far none of the previous directors has had any understanding of the development of human resources, they always just expected and demanded maximum results from the employees, nothing else interested them’. These were not just his words but also his actions, since in his co-workers he saw the schoolmates who used him. So he transferred his anger onto them. In his previous director he saw his father acting out on him. The admin manager was the one who had anonymously tipped off the owners of the company about the previous director, who was improperly handing documents and later replaced. During our conversation he became more and more involved in his thoughts. Before the next management meeting began he came to me and shook my hand, looked me in the eye and thanked me.
I understood the gesture, but his actions spoke even louder. At the meeting he was more relaxed and he looked less stern. When he presented his solution for a problem they had been debating, the general manager complemented him for the originality of his idea. And the complement gave him important validation. At subsequent meetings considerable changes were noticeable in his demeanour. I watched him open up to his co-workers, allowing them to get closer and signalling that he no longer treated them as adversaries. This was also probably the first time he felt what it meant to have a genuine professional relationship.
The production manager was a special character. That’s what he was told throughout his childhood. He was an individualist, he didn’t socialise much and instead enjoyed exploring, repairing or ‘upgrading’ things. His parents realised with pride that he was technically minded since he disassembled everything he got his hands on. Of course not many of those things were then re-assembled. As he grew older he began to ‘improve’ things he received or bought, something which gave him great joy. He didn’t want to feel limited and wanted complete freedom, and since the previous director knew he was doing his job well and that the company was largely dependent on him, he gave him complete independence. In his personal life the production manager quenched his thirst for freedom with speed, mostly sports cars that occasionally attracted the attention of his co-workers. He liked the attention even though he was still a bit of a loner. Everyone needs attention, however we must not seek attention from the outside world but from within ourselves. That’s why we must praise ourselves occasionally. He also didn’t have a family; he enjoyed his single life and wasn’t ready to exchange it for a family. The general director knew that if he demanded detailed reports from him, he would be limiting him and hampering his creativity, which was bringing income to the company. He was also aware that it was not ideal for so many employees to depend solely upon one person. At upper management meetings, when the general director sensed that the production manager had found himself at a dead end, he suggested he take certain measures that would challenge him in a way that encouraged his creativity. When he was given a challenge he readily accepted it.
The marketing manager quickly sensed that cooperating at the management meetings meant a possible promotion. When the previous director was on his way out, he lobbied the owners to appoint him to the empty post. He wanted the attention, he was a good salesman who was ready to do anything for the customers.
‘By resisting, we merely spin around in circles.’
Since he was only interested in external validation, he didn’t spend any time with the organisational requirements of his department, which was pretty chaotic and causing delays in the production process. The previous director had left him alone since he always had a lot of orders, but the director also never checked the prices. The marketing manager was good at psychoanalysing people and he could read the needs of the customer very well, so he was also adept at reading the new director as well and surprised him with a speech. ‘Mr Director, I will be able to tell you in more detail once you tell us in which direction you are navigating the ship…’ He let him know that he is ready to cooperate and that he respects him as his superior. He came from an artistic family, his mother was an actress and his father a musician. He learned at an early age what performing before an audience can give you and how to get them to like you. He was born when his parents were both over forty, already tired of performing but still desiring the attention. He learned from them that he had to always get attention, no matter the price, if he wants to survive. The parents didn’t have much time for him nor their home, so they lived in state of disorder. There was no noticeable difference between the department he was running and his former home.
The financial director was a beautiful girl as a child. Her parents tried to instil a great sense of respect for others in her. At first she was a brilliant student and her primary school years were straight out of a fairy-tale. Most would say she had a happy childhood. But she never felt true love from her parents. They talked a lot, they showed her a large part of the world, taught her how to survive, but there was not enough warmth and mutual attachment in their relationship. In high school she met a boy and went completely head over heals for him. He took advantage of her naïveté and was mostly just attracted by her parents’ wealth.
His circle of friends, which she became a part of, was into using drugs. Initially cannabis and then later heroin. When they needed money for drugs, she provided it. Eventually the parents realised what was going on and put a stop to it. Since she couldn’t buy drugs any more she was no longer of any use to her so-called friends and they kicked her out of their circle. At seventeen she was addicted to drugs, and after she failed three classes she no longer knew what to do. Her parents gave her an ultimatum: either she stopped using drugs and went to rehab or they will cut her out of their life. As a result of her naïveté she had found herself at the edge of society. She completely closed up and dedicated herself to school and passed her exams almost with flying colours. Her drug addiction was replaced with sports activities and she entered fourth year completely transformed on the outside but emotionally even more closed off. She no longer trusted anyone. She blamed her parents for not teaching her how to love herself and her friends for using her for her money. She focused on her business career and completely devoted her life to it. She continued doing sports activities to stay in shape while working at the office for twelve or more hours a day. Everything she did was for her career. She treated the previous director as she had treated her parents: she was angry at him but needed his help and support to get to the top – and she was willing to do anything to get there. When the financial director position opened up she was determined to get it, even if she had to use her feminine charms. At that time she was head of the accounting department and when she found out about the new opportunity, she didn’t hesitate and quickly made a plan to secure the position for herself. When an opportunity arose she invited the director to her place for dinner; that same week she was appointed financial director, without any job advertisement being released for the position. They were lovers, even though he was married, until he was released from the company. She didn’t mind the infidelity, since this was the only way to control her position within the company. The moment he was let go, she ceased all communication with him. She no longer took his calls and when he came to visit she didn’t even open the door.
When the new director turned out to be kind, open and honest with everyone, she felt a difference and warmth that she had never experienced before. Since he showed the same respectful attitude to every employee, she felt she will now have to show her knowledge and potential in order to keep her job.
‘If we want to act differently, we must change our habits.’
Everyone left the management meeting content. They went back to their offices and, inspired by the meeting, started to prepare their next steps. Each of them had to think carefully about how they imagined a different kind of organisation, how the workflow should be organised in their departments if the department managers went on vacation for a month.
The director and I made a plan for how to motivate the newly-formed strategic team. Each individual was given a task which demanded his or her personal input and we gave each person a chance to express their creativity and to present proposals for the development of the company. At the same time, they also had to face the responsibilities of their positions.
Everyone had to make an organisational chart of the company and of his or her own sector. Thus the director and I learned from them for the first time who is doing what in the company and who answers to whom.
Creating the organisational chart was also a huge psychological relief for the department managers. By doing this, each leader realised that she or he is not responsible for everything and that their employees – their co-workers – must take responsibility as well. From almost all the diagrams it was apparent that within each sector there were tasks that repeated or were intertwined with others, such that it was impossible to determine who exactly was responsible for a certain task. They also realised that quite often they were doing tasks which were actually the responsibility of their employees. Once they began to rearrange their schedules with their employees and defined only one person for each individual task, their schedules were greatly relieved, some by even up to 40 per cent.
After coming to this conclusion, the managers no longer complained about having a lack of time but they did begin to question the abilities of their employees. Most of the managers were of the opinion that their co-workers did not have sufficient experience and knowledge to carry out the newly assigned tasks to the same standard as they themselves had before the change. Suddenly they were convinced that is was not going to work. When the new operations system was implemented in the company, the members of the entire strategic group – that is, the directors of the individual departments – began to resist.
The managers’ biggest problem was that they did not trust their co-workers. They were convinced that the employees in their department were not as competent as they were, so they would rather carry out many of the tasks by themselves rather than assign them to others. By doing this, however, they not only decreased the employees responsibilities but also their motivation. The managers let the employees in their department know that they thought they were not capable of doing more demanding and responsible tasks. If the manager always keeps the most important tasks for themselves, it has a strong demotivating effect on the employees – they are letting them know that they will never be as good as their superiors and that there is no use in even trying. Because of this, the department managers’ schedules became overloaded while their employees were less busy and less motivated. All this brought about resentments and subtle complexes.
These patterns led to blockages and caused mental garbage that created ever more puddles of stagnant water in the company. The more stagnant these puddles became, the more the mental pain of the managers grew, which manifested itself in increasing rudeness towards their employees and the community as the distance between them only increased. And the employees felt as if they meant nothing to their superiors – leading to even more recalcitrant behaviour.
‘There is no need to eat the entire pot of soup to know how it tastes.’
In creating the organisational chart, the managers had to face themselves first and thus make space to clean away their mental garbage and smelly puddles of stagnant water. The tension was relieved but in the first phase only the cleaning of the least smelly puddles took place. Immediately afterwards new doubts came to light. Suddenly, they had the feeling that the director’s approach would create even more confusion in the company.
Mental garbage is information collected in our subconscious which has no clear meaning, creating negative thoughts that cause stress. Each of the managers was trying to convince the director that they could not hand over tasks to their subordinates because the latter simply weren’t up to it. They pressured him from all sides, so he decided to call an intervention meeting. Each of the department managers pushed their own point of view and portrayed him or herself as irreplaceable, and their subordinates as incompetent underlings who couldn’t be trusted.
The director listened, observing them carefully. They acted like a herd of wild animals intent on fulfilling their desires at any cost. When they started repeating themselves, he nodded and asked them, ‘Does this mean that we now have to replace all the employees in your departments?’ They all looked at him surprised and replied ‘no’. The director was not distracted and continued, ‘Is this how you are going to work for the rest of your lives?’ Again, a no from all of them, this time in a calmer tone and a wondering look in their eyes.
What are we supposed to do then? Do we need new assistants and where are we going to get the money for them? Everyone went quiet. They were left speechless, without arguments or ideas. The director took advantage of the situation and calmly continued, ‘Since we cannot change all of our employees, maybe it’s time we started thinking about changing their managers’.
The facial expressions around the table betrayed their true feelings. As they all sat in shock, the production manager said jokingly, ‘You can’t be thinking of us, can you?’ ‘Yes, you’, the director calmly replied. ‘If you cannot find a solution, I will. The previous director was replaced because he couldn’t find one. So, if I am to follow the reasoning of the owners, I must replace you’.
Everyone came to the intervention meeting intending to persuade the director that reorganisation measures in their sector were unnecessary, time consuming and damaging instead of useful. My job as consultant was to prepare the director for the ambush that awaited him. The department managers acted quite impulsively, so it was important for the director to calm down in order to be able to react appropriately. The key was not to play their game. Because they all came to the meeting with the same goal, they thought they could win him to their side. Of course they were expecting that they would have to use a considerable amount of persuasion to show him they were right, but he surprised them by not playing their game and instead just clearly and calmly stated his position. Because they were not prepared for such an approach they were left without any arguments.
Still surprised, the financial director spoke, ‘This is too much, this is blackmail!’ ‘Not at all, these are only different, more radical ways to achieve a goal. If we want to achieve these goals, I need a team of people who will not only see problems but will also be willing to search for solutions,’ he replied to her. He explained that he was not looking for final solutions but suggestions which can be developed and researched in depth. Nobody wants to just search for reasons why they shouldn’t be doing something. He wanted them to find arguments for why something must be done. If they just resist, they are only spinning around in circles and this doesn’t bring results, it only increases loss. The current situation was forcing them to carry out change, firstly on themselves, so that afterward they could demand it from their employees. Once they write out all the proposals that were requested of them they still won’t have solved any problems, but they will be able to clearly see the whole picture. It is crucial for the director to see individual pictures as parts of a bigger picture.
We wanted to explain that, once they look at their own departments, at first they will see even more issues and problems – but they mustn’t panic, because their common task was to begin solving them. The problems were there all along but because of their strained workload they hadn’t noticed them before. In all such situations it is of key importance to define things and only then start changing them – comprehensively, as a whole. Solving them only partially would cause even more problems. This is because with a partial solution to a problem we can create new problems or even expend the existing ones.
‘A man should only seek a woman as strong as he can handle. Everything else just gives them the wrong impression.’
This is why a comprehensive overview of tasks and responsibilities in the company is important. The department managers did not just draw an organisational chart so they could figure out each employee’s responsibilities and define who does what and how, but mostly to establish how they work together as a unit. If they wanted to create a common work strategy, they had to provide a comprehensive approach to the work.
The director managed to calm his heated colleagues. He advised them to continue with the task he gave them. At the same time, he assured them he is counting on their further cooperation and assistance. He reminded them that at the next management meeting they will thoroughly inspect the procedures of each individual sector and discuss the problematic issues and solutions for each department together.
The intervention meeting was a success, all the department managers had completed the given tasks in time. They all made the organisational chart and the list of tasks the employees in their department should have. They also completed an organisational chart which included a diagram depicting the flow of information in their department. A list of the issues that needed attention in the department, together with their proposed solutions, was prepared as well.
‘The human being’s path while growing up is a struggle, so the instinct to fight stays within us. If you are reading this, it means you are alive and still fighting.’
They all submitted their materials to the personal assistant on time. Before the next meeting, the documentation needed to be sorted and compared with the company’s articles of association, the internal regulations outlining the company’s structure. The director instructed his assistant to prepare an analysis of tasks for every single employee. The analysis had to contain a comparison of the tasks given to the employees by their department manager and the tasks which the employees were supposed to be carrying out according to the company structure as it was defined on paper. A comparison of work procedures followed, those from the lists from the department managers with the ISO Standard documentation. Both he and his secretary had to work over the weekend, of course, but they had all the documentation ready for the meeting on Monday.
As the department managers came in to the meeting, one could feel their light step and sense of relief. They were all proud to have fulfilled the director’s expectations and prove to him that they are capable of leading their departments.
The meeting began with the director’s greeting, then he complemented and thanked everyone for their cooperation and readiness to complete the first comprehensive task. A discussion of current challenges followed. The department managers suggested potential solutions for the issues that were presented. They agreed upon all further measures together. The business secretary wrote down all the conclusions and prepared the minutes of the meeting. Each decision was clearly defined: what needs to be done, who is responsible for the execution of that task and the deadline.
An overview of the documentation that was gathered from each department manager followed. The director presented, individually for each sector, all the deviations he had found, that is to say, the differences between the department managers’ observations and how the company should be functioning according to the company’s articles of association. The differences were huge. Some employees were not executing even a single task defined for their position in the company’s description of positions. The company was in a state of complete anarchy. The department managers were left speechless. They couldn’t believe how great the differences actually were.
Their astonishment grew even more when they saw the actual information flow and organisational procedures in the company. At that moment they realised that the current state of the company did not correspond with the articles of association, which now served no purpose whatsoever. The director managed to prove to his colleagues that the workflow in the company was not rationally organised and that each sector had adjusted them to its own needs.
Suddenly they all became vocal. They wanted to explain themselves and most of all, blame somebody else. The director leaned back in his chair and listened. Since he did not react to their accusations, they slowly calmed down. Then the silence was broken by the admin manager. ‘For goodness’ sake, why don’t you want to discuss things with us? It looks as if our opinions aren’t important to you. Why don’t you say anything?’ This was now the second time the director had been challenged. Since he was still not ready to dance to their music, they were even more confused. They experienced a shock, a positive one. The director had put a mirror up to them: they themselves saw what was going on versus what was supposed to be happening. He gave them an insight into reality and showed them they themselves could be wrong.
He looked straight into the eyes of the admin manager and then with a calm yet firm voice responded, ‘What am I supposed to say if you are all talking at the same time. I don’t even understand what you are trying to say. I think we are old enough to carry out a conversation and not scream at each other. We are all adults.’
Once they had all calmed down the conversation continued in a normal tone of voice. Suddenly there was no tension, sarcasm or violence, just a more relaxed manner of conversation. The director let them know that they, too, were capable of making mistakes. But by being calm and understanding toward them he gave them a clear sign that his intention was not to look for guilty parties, but to find solutions for everyone and to improve things.
But this was a critical turning point for another reason as well – the department managers had put their masks away and began to cooperate with one another. The director let them know that he accepted them the way they are. The most important thing for him was not to step away from his intentions. Even though he had confronted the co-workers with the results of their own work, mutual relations actually started to improve. They were all just people with flaws, but also people who were striving to reach the same goal. And this is key in every organisation: common vision, common goals and a well-defined strategy.
When they continued with the next item of the meeting, everyone shared their ideas on how to save time and material and who could be their new customers. There were no major comments made here. They nevertheless now understood that the work to be done was much more complex than they had imagined it to be. Every manager had a completely different vision of who the target clients were. Once they started talking there were a lot of proposals on the table. They agreed to organise a team-building session by the end of the month, with the subject being ‘finding new potential business opportunities’.
In the last part of the meeting they went through all the currently active projects and saw that they did not even have a complete overview of all open orders. They agreed to set up a summary of all offers and divide them into categories (‘in preparation’, ‘in negotiation’, ‘ready to sign’, ‘being executed’) and to list all the projects which were being executed (including in which phase they are and who is in charge of each one ). Only in this way could they get the feeling that some progress had been made.
‘Follow my advice, so that you do not make the same mistakes I did.’
After the meeting everyone felt ‘relieved’. They had new directions and there was no more resistance. This was apparent already at the next meeting when everyone came prepared and with their assigned tasks completed. Subsequent meetings were all much more relaxed, occasionally someone even made a joke here and there. They started to talk about their mistakes and their solutions at the same time. And already after their third strategic meeting they suggested that these sorts of meetings be transferred to the lower levels of the company hierarchy as well. They all agreed to organise similar meetings within each department.
The department managers, despite their initial resistance, accepted that these kinds of management meetings were an efficient approach to communication. They all started to get along better with one another and the meetings became more polite and relaxed. Actually, they became a necessity for them. The department managers had to change their habits and accept new work methods. Since they established fairly quickly that the new approach was more effective, less demanding and less stressful, they adopted it as their own. Of course this was not the end of the rationalisation process, which had begum at the very top. It still had to work its way down the ladder.
It was the general director’s turn first, followed by the department managers. The next step was to put it into practice among the individual heads of departments. When implementing changes into existing procedures it is of utmost importance for the individuals to first feel the need for these changes. The director himself felt this need. After working with him on a personal level, together we defined his personal and business goals. He felt that other employees must also start to work differently. He couldn’t do this by demanding them to change. His only weapon was to lead the transformation by example. Because the general director was sending out positive vibrations with his way of working, he motivated other department managers as well.
If we want to work differently, we must change our habits. The reorganisation of a company means changing the habits of the people. It succeeds only when changes also begin to take place in the minds of the employees. When the wheel of change starts to spin, we must make sure it keeps spinning, it mustn’t stop or start spinning backwards. This would bring about even more chaos than that which existed before the changes were implemented.
Laying down new rules is one of the ways to make sure that the wheel does not spin backwards. The individual department managers quickly sensed the director’s new approach and followed him at first. However, after tasks were assigned at the management meeting they began to resist. They wanted to stop the wheel of change and go back to their previous state. But once we take a step forward, there is no going back. Even if we want to go back, we never go back one step, but two or more. This is because unconsciously we want to remove ourselves from the point of change. If we only take a single step back, we are still right in front of the point of change. If we take two or more steps back it will be much more difficult on our next attempt to convince the employees to begin to change things.
In our case, the general director persisted on the path of transformation and swiftly guided his colleagues away from hitting a dead-end. The department managers had made a big step, a quantum leap, and stepped back onto the wheel of change. Since the director and I made sure that they did not get the chance to stop themselves then, there was no more resistance from them later on.
After four months of transforming their work methods they had almost completely changed their habits. They said themselves that they could no longer imagine working the old way. Later on they took the initiative of implementing these changes to lower levels as well. The wheel of change continued to churn forward. All the guidelines we established at our first upper management meetings were transferred to lower levels of the company. Within a year, step by step, the entire company started to function in line with the new principles.
‘Within a year, step by step, the entire company started to function in line with the new principles.’
The Dynamic model of leadership is indeed the new economy. For the economy is formed on the basis of demand, and demand on the basis of needs. After this period of “crisis”, consumers will react differently because their primary emotions will be paramount. For the future, this means a new leadership, a new economy, a new world. And because I built the whole model according to the laws of physics/nature. Colleagues at UN thought this should be seen by the general public and nominated me for the Nobel Prize in Economics 2021.