Creating a positive organization often seems impossible. To do so requires a leader who puts the collective good ahead of the personal good. Conventional assumptions suggest that people are inherently self-interested. People who accept this often assume that life is a zero-sum game. “Pretend to care about the organization, but always take care of yourself first.”
It is, however, possible to change. Consider a case from Csikszenmihalyi (1997). The case describes Keith, a manager who worked seventy hours a week, neglecting his family and his own personal growth and hoarding credit for his accomplishments, in an attempt to impress his superiors and win a promotion. Nevertheless, he was still passed over.
“Finally Keith resigned himself to having reached the ceiling of his career, and decided to find his rewards elsewhere. He spent more time with the family, took up a hobby, became involved in community activities. Because he was no longer struggling so hard, his behavior on the job became more relaxed, less selfish, and more objective. In fact, he began to act more like a leader whose personal agenda takes second place to the well-being of the company. Keith’s boss was finally impressed, and he received his promotion.”
Keith’s shift was an exercise in deep change. He outgrew the assumptions of conventional self-interest and entered the realm of positive leadership.
As he made the change he became a more effective version of himself and others were able to do the same.
– Deep Change Field Guide (pg. 82)
Have you ever seen a change like this one?
How could this kind of development be accelerated?
How could we use this positive passage to get better?