No More "Because I Said So"

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“You don’t want me to have to tell your father about this!” was a near-universal threat spoken throughout the little ranch homes on Hiveley Street where I grew up in Inkster, Michigan. And the most popular parent-line of the time was the answer to a child’s query “Why?” – with the conversation-ending, “Because I said so. That’s why.” In many homes today these words are gratefully obsolete. It’s hard to overstate the changes in family roles, structure, and expectations, especially related to authority. And in the “adult worlds” of politics, business management, academe, and even religious organizations, there has been a fundamental shift in the focus of authority figures. The essential shift? From control to empowerment.

Resistance to the shift is ultimately futile. Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Bush II – none could win with their “executive privilege” type arguments. Truth outs. Faster and surer than ever.

We are watching it live: In the cell phone, texting, Twitter-Facebook-YouTube world, the curtain will be pulled back on Ahmadinejad.

On the back-side of Fathers Day in this new era that invites men to be (like women): more relational, authentic and collaborative, I offer an argument and a question. The argument: Every authorized leader should live as though they’re governed by the Freedom of Information Act. No ”fathers knows best.” No executive privilege. No “information on a need to know basis,” where your manager decides what you need to know. Open book – on strategy, systems, right down to pay, including executive compensation! The shift from control to empowerment is scary, just ask Ahmadinejad, Gorbachev, de Klerk or others who thought they could open things up a lot but still keep control. But it’s worth it to open up. The upside in empowerment and trust and collaboration is huge.

The question – which we’ll discuss on the air on Saturday – is one I’d love you to comment on today. It begs discussion: Should not-for-profits and for profit businesses choose to act like the Freedom of Information Act controls them, and throw open their books and memos to anyone in the organization who wants to know? I say, YES. The time has come and the rewards are great.

What would it take to for you to lead as that kind of parent, boss or owner? I predict that a shift to total openness would drive you to

Lead – even more so – with your best self,

Dan

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