Friday, November 18, 2011

my new favorite word

One of the readings for The Concordia MBA's Leadership: Self course that I taught this past week discussed the concept of spiritually inspired leadership, and how that affects an organization. One of the characteristics of "the good company" is that it embraces subsidiarity. Now I have to admit that I had not come across that word before (or if I had, I failed to recognize its significance). The idea behind subsidiarity, taken from social justice literature, captures "the involvement of and opennes to others, the norm that decision making should include individuals affected by the decision, and belief that authority should involve the levels of the organization that have hands-on knowledge and responsibility" (Delbeq, 2008). This concept, when applied to leadership, can change the way an organization looks, feels, and is actually run.
To be an organization (or a leader) who embraces subsidiarity, several things need to occur:

  • leaders need to believe that this process is best for decision making

  • leaders need to be comfortable with the fact that they do not have all the answers

  • leaders need to put in place a structure that not only encourages this process but actually forces it through governance and policy

  • leaders need to be willing to accept other people's ideas and decisions, and then put them into practice

  • leaders need to share information - lots of information - and provide a vehicle for others to learn and grow form that information

  • followers need to accept the responsibility of their decision making process

  • followers need to learn all they can about the organization and the process of decision making

  • followers need to be willing to lead when called upon

  • followers need to be willing to challenge the process and ask for decision making responsibility

  • leaders and followers need to learn to listen to each other

  • leaders and followers need to learn to trust each other

  • leaders and followers need to learn to forgive each other

  • leaders and followers need to learn to give up their locus of control to each other

Consider where you might be able to put into practice the concept of subsidiarity today. Perhaps it is with a colleague...perhaps it is with a student...perhaps it is with a boss...perhaps it is with a child...perhaps it is with an elected officials...perhaps it is with the auto mechanic. Look around and see where you can give the decision making power to someone at a a "subsidiary" level OR where you can challenge the process and offer to make the decision at YOUR level. Who knows where life might take someone when they practice the art of subsidiarity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Don,

Have you read The One Minute Manager?
He's an excellent writer and I've read several others of his.

Christmas Blessings,

Margaret in Maryland