Control often gained by sharing with others

Guest Column:
Ken Cook
We are a society that revolves around control. The structures we live with every day are organized and predicated on a hierarchy and someone being in charge. Our government works this way. Our education systems work this way. Businesses work this way. More

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Control often gained by sharing with others

Guest Column:
Ken Cook
Posted 7/8/13

We are a society that revolves around control. The structures we live with every day are organized and predicated on a hierarchy and someone being in charge. Our government works this way. Our education systems work this way. Businesses work this way.

Companies have organization charts to illustrate who ranks where and who has the power of decisions. These charts, at least on paper, say that one person is above another, and someone is above them, eventually reaching the CEO or president at the top. Even then, that individual has above them an entire board of directors.

Most employees aspire to move up the organization. Doing so equates to more pay, more responsibility and a belief that there is more control. The title is supposed to somehow imbue on someone the ability to control resources (people) in order to produce desired outcomes.

The illusion in this thinking is that the more someone exercises a sense of control, the less control they actually have. Control imparted by a title is a power over perspective. The thinking is that, by the power invested in me with my title, I can control you and what you do.

The reality is that exercising hierarchical control makes people feel unsafe. Hierarchical control robs people of their sense of accomplishment and meaningfulness. Merely doing as we are told is inherently dissatisfying.

The need to be safe is built into our DNA. If we perceive a threat, real or imagined, we naturally, and usually without thinking, take actions to alleviate the threat. We use our energy for safekeeping purposes.

When we focus our energy on safekeeping we divert focus from the tasks, goals and desired outcomes handed to us. Hence, the individual believing they are in control actually has little control over the outcomes. The control of outcomes rests with the employees, and because they are spending their energy on protecting themselves the desired outcomes are not met.

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