Cultivate Disruption

What happens when you anti-manage great people who are addicted to overcoming obstacles? They push you, and sometimes they push you hard.

Human reflexes tell you to be rigid when you are pushed. They tell you to seize control and to settle things down. It is a reflex because it’s overwhelming if you are already busy with something (or several things). You are at capacity, can’t work another 60-hour week and besides, there is enough cool stuff in the pipeline already.

The problem is that your personal capacity doesn’t matter in this situation. If you are being pushed to support an initiative it means your people aren’t yet at their capacity. Unused potential in your people leads to dissatisfaction, lack of fulfillment and declining performance.

It leads to attrition.

You hired and developed these people to critically think their way through problems independently, to cultivate killer big picture vision and to always pursue mega-value. You used to be one of these people. Why would you want to shut them down?

The likelihood is that your people are not the only ones who push you. Your internal & external suppliers and customers will do this too. Disruptive thinking is contagious, so why wouldn’t they push? The same principle applies in all cases – their push means they have value to add and need your support.

As soon as you reject, ignore or delay an idea, you are on your way down. You won’t get fired tomorrow, but you probably will be laid off in a couple of years. Your underlings will surpass you in value. Your customers will move on to others who help them achieve their disruption. Your suppliers will vertically integrate you.

The answer to the problem is to realize there is no problem; you are in a dream scenario that disruptive managers kill for. All you have to do is fight your reflexes and let your people run with it:

  • You don’t need to be in every initiative meeting. Stop insisting they be postponed to accommodate your schedule.
  • Your input is not needed for every decision. Stop delaying action because you haven’t “looked at it yet”.
  • Use your time to understand and support disruptive ideas and project execution, not developing your own personal contribution to them.
  • Don’t be a nanny. Sometimes aggressively disruptive people will get their knees scraped, and that is perfectly acceptable. It happened to you too and you know it.

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