The other day I was working on a project when my keyboard stopped working. I was not impressed and after several attempts at getting it to respond by asking it nicely what the problem was, I gave in and did a restart. Thankfully I still had some control over the situation using my mouse. I will often talk (and swear) to my computer and no, I don’t have a dictation software program. I know that I can do this because even when it doesn’t listen to me I still have ultimate control and don’t have to worry about hurt feelings or hidden agendas.

In his book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, Sir Ken Robinson writes “However seductive the machine metaphor may be for industrial production, human organizations are not actually mechanisms and people are not components in them. People have values and feelings, perceptions, opinions, motivations, and biographies, whereas cogs and sprockets do not. An organization is not the physical facilities within which it operates; it is the networks of people in it.”

There’s a debate raging over the fall of the Command and Control style of leadership. Some say it is on its way out and others say it is as strong as ever. What many fail to realize is that like it or not, companies that want to attract and retain the best and the brightest of the workforce and get the best from them, will need to let go of the Command and Control style and embrace leadership for the 21st century. The kind that respects people and works to understand their intrinsic motivations. The kind that restores humanity to the workplace.

The pundits tell us that there is an approaching shortage of skilled labour. Companies can no longer afford to use high pay and juicy benefits to attract and keep the best workers and still expect to compete in the global marketplace. It’s just not economically viable any more. Only those that embrace the new style of leadership and begin to make the cultural organizational changes now will be ready.

To reignite creativity, innovation, and learning, leaders must re-humanize education and work. Technology has made it easy to forget that it takes people to create and buy our products and services. Make no mistake: Re-humanizing work and education requires courageous leadership.

How do you create a workplace that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit? Here are 3 ideas

  1. Move from compliance to engagement giving people the opportunity to work and develop in their strength zone.
  2. Implement “Tinker Time” by allotting between 10 and 20% of any given week to working on a project or problem they want whether it is within their scope of responsibility or not
  3. Conduct an anonymous autonomy audit to look for ways to give people more control over their work environment

We won’t solve the complex issues that we’re facing today without creativity, innovation, and engaged learning. That takes courageous leadership to be willing to listen and change. To be human. How courageous are you?

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