Employee Engagement, Internal Communication, Leadership, social media

What drives the fear of losing control?

Hi all.  Let me start this short post by saying thanks to all of my followers who emailed or called to find out why I haven’t been posting much for the past few weeks.  I continue to be amazed at how we form relationships with people through blogs, tweets and on-line interactions.  From my perspective it is one of the greatest benefits of the socially networked world we enjoy.  To make a long story short for those I haven’t been in touch with, sometimes life throws us a curve ball and now and then it tosses us a few at the same time.  Well, I had one of those periods and was pretty much down and out and rather ill for a while.  I’ve been feeling pretty good the past couple of days and so am back up and about and trying to catch up on a lot of work and writing that fell by the wayside.

Yesterday I had separate conversations with the leaders of three very different organizations, each with a set of issues, challenges and needs as varied as their firms with one major exception.  All have a clear need to open up communication within their business in order to achieve the changes required to ensure continued success.  All share the far to common array of communication related problems we know so well.

As I was reviewing,  clarifying and reflecting on my notes last night I chuckled a little at the idea that all three had raised the same concern about “loosing control of the messages and conversations” by sharing information and establishing communication processes that will allow for a freer exchange of ideas.  In the words of one CEO “if I start a blog and allow for comments and feedback, people will simply use that as a way of raising all their bitches for everyone in the company to see and I will lose control.  All the crap they talk about in the lunch room and on the shop floor will be posted and I can’t have that.”

I’ll leave aside the conversations we had around those ideas.  Instead, I want to ask your thoughts on the following question:   What drives the fear of loosing control and how do we get leaders to shift their thinking?

It’s nice to be back and I look forward to your thoughts and ideas….cheers and onward, Ken


About kenmilloy

Many years ago a manager told me I hadn't been hired to think....which got me to thinking... And before that my brother introduced me to golf...which is without a doubt the most intriguing and challenging game in the world...and which I practice or play with a passion at every opportunity...


4 thoughts on “What drives the fear of losing control?

  1. Ken, seems that senior leaders have similar control issues, and use the same rationale to avoid effective “internal” communication, as they do to justify engagement with social media… “what if somebody says something bad!”. Our standard come back is this: They’re saying it anyway. The “conversation” is going on regardless of whether you are part of it or not. You can either have it in front of you, and participate, or remain blissfully ignorant while those who “get it” have the discussion without you.

    The days of “controlling the message” are toast. All us marketers, communicators and especially CEO’s need to come to grips with fact that we non longer “run” the conversation. At best, we’ll best, we’ll be allowed to participate as an equal, and only then if we act with honesty and integrity.

    Posted by Michael Davis | February 9, 2012, 9:03 pm
    • Mike…thanks for stopping by. Great points you make and sadly, they are bang on. Unfortunately the cost to the business is substantial on many different levels, especially wirh respect to their ability to attract people and compete over the long term. Cheers.

      Posted by kenmilloy | February 10, 2012, 5:14 am
  2. Ken, this is a an interesting dialogue that started me thinking about decision-making.

    Organizations are faced with rapid change resulting from globalization, hyper-competitiveness, increased demand for service, technology, and social change. People are desperate for effective leadership. The challenge is that leaders have difficulty making sense of this world because they react to bits of information and grasp short-term solutions based on previous ways of viewing the world.

    My point is that adaptability to constant change is limited by their mental models.

    The quality of decisions depends on information leaders have available which they combine with past experience, ways of thinking, personal biases and how quickly they can implement solutions.

    Organizations exist in organic environments that require structures that balance efficiency and execution with flexibility and adaptation. In response, effective leaders constantly reframe their mental models.

    Drawing from your example, they must see the value of dialogue as a way to collect information. Instead of viewing feedback as a form of “bitching” just maybe there’s some nuggets of value leaders can extract from employees lower down in the ranks that they can use to form decisions. As Michael pointed out above, the conversation is going on regardless. Why not become part of that conversation as a way of listening and helping to gain shared meaning.

    Reframing mental models helps leaders move beyond narrow approaches for understanding organizations by analysing different ways to respond to challenges and creating lasting competitive advantage through people.

    Posted by Harold Simons | February 10, 2012, 9:58 am
    • Hi Harold – great to hear from you – been way too long since we spoke!

      You raise some very interesting points and I especially like your thoughts on reframing mental models. Interestingly, as I reflect on the conversations I had each was with a very conservative old school type thinker in very traditionally based and structured organizations. In two cases I was able to have them accept the point that the conversations were occurring outside of the “corporate wall” (and in one instance I was able to show the leader exactly what was being said about the company in an online discussion – talk about shock and awe as well as an eye opening experience for him!). Both of those leaders were able to ship their thinking to some degree…although it will be interesting to see how they respond as we move forward. My bet is that the third leader and the company he leads will not be around for very long – the mental model held by him and the others on the leadership team are so well entrenched that even if they moved to a new one they would struggle to stay with it very long.

      Great input Harold…thanks.

      Posted by kenmilloy | February 10, 2012, 3:45 pm

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