I Can’t be a Good Boss and a Friend too (and other myths)

“To power up the whole system involves learning to bring the heart and mind into a creative joint venture. Heart intelligence supplies balanced strength and allows more of one’s individual spirit — the passionate actualization of one’s core values — to come ‘on-line’.”

   — From Chaos to Coherence, Doc Childre and Bruce Cryer


We have all heard variations on this theme. “I’m not here to be your friend. I’m here to be your parent (or boss) ” as if the two are antithetical. This is completely true when you are using control methods. However, if you decide to let go of control methods and choose a responsibility-based way of developing people, you not only become more influential and effective as a leader, you can also safely foster friendships with those you lead.

Why control methods are still so popular

Control is mostly what we see modeled on TV, at the movies, hear about and read about in the news, and see playing out in front of us pretty much most of the time. Control is quite seductive because it’s familiar and powerful. And, people believe the alternative is passive and permissive. Besides, if you can get people to do what you want quickly by using a little force, coercion, guilt, judgment, a few carrots, or pampering, what’s the harm?! That’s the million-dollar question I ask you to consider

The small matter of massive and epidemic inferiority feelings

Psychiatrist Alfred Adler coined the phrase, “inferiority complex.” He believed that conditions and conversations we offer in any given moment either support inferiority or worthiness in people, but not both. He said that when they regularly support inferiority, people fall into a state of continuous struggle within themselves (we are the most medicated, addicted, obese, and indebted people ever), and interpersonally (have you watched the news lately?), all symptomatic of missing crucial conditions and conversations needed for joyful and caring lives.

The pesky absence of purpose and values

Added to our general ideas that we are supposed to control others, we fail to seek and discover our personal power and aim it at a worthy and genuine purpose. Then we fail to help others do the same. My daughter recently said to me, “I’ll never have your work ethic,” to which I replied, “you already do. You play video games all night long.” She replied, “Yeah, but that’s fun” to which I said, “So is a life in which you’re work aligns with a meaningful purpose.” When we use control, we don’t bother defining purpose.

The toxicity of poor trust and teamwork

Relationships that work well are based on trust and authentic teamwork. Trust requires we are secure and consistent in being transparent, straight with each other, telling the truth, committed to hearing each other, respecting and acknowledging the gifts in each other. These are nearly impossible to do when force and coercion are present. When we don’t feel safe enough to build strong trust within ourselves and with others, we have less generosity with which to provide supportive teamwork.

Consider dismantling control and fostering responsibility instead

Using control is like any other harmful addiction; its painful to withdraw from, and difficult to imagine a life without. Until you decide a life without using control is more desirable than one with it, you will continue to use it. I offer you a challenge: Seek out people who influence others without the use of control. Notice how they make you feel; how they make others feel. Watch what they do and how they do it. Get addicted to what they model for you. You will find them to be some of the most amazing and productive people imaginable. Let them seduce you into the authentic power of being responsible and helping others to do the same. Our world needs you to do this and the sooner, the better.

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Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Judy Ryan and Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace. For a limited time, Judy’s book, What’s the Deal with Workplace Culture Change? is available FREE at www.GetMyCultureBook.com You can also contact Judy at 314-239-4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

This article was published in the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, September 2017