Monday, 8 July 2013

Communication, Transparency & Democracy - and Leadership

Many sets of chambers and law firms suffer from a surfeit of democracy in a mis-guided belief that  this is the best and fairest way to make decisions. It rarely is.

There is a confusion in many of these sorts of organisations that communication means meetings, and that every member of the organisation should be involved in decisions. In discussions, most people will agree that they don't need to be involved in every decision - just the important ones…

This generally leads to a sclerosis - a situation where change becomes impossible and each new level of decision has to be preceded by open and full discussion leading to changes in the terms of reference for the decision leading to new demands for discussion since the context of the last discussion has changed…

It can be enormously frustrating for those caught up in it - even those causing the sclerosis can feel hugely frustrated.

The way out of this is through much less democracy - but balanced off with much more openness, more transparency and much more communication. So - let's say that a decision has to be made about leasing a building. A small group is appointed to examine the options and propose a single decision. The appointment of the group is made public within the organisation as is their job. The proposal they make is available not only to the Management Committee or Board but to the members of the organisation too.

Their proposal is examined by the appointed Management Committee or Board (having made it clear that a decision was going to be made) who make a decision. This decision is communicated to the organisation as soon as possible.

This process allows those who have strong opinions to make them and those who would like to get involved to get involved. It allows the body appointed to make decisions to make those decisions.

What I am talking about, of course, is Leadership - something sadly lacking in too many organisations. Leadership does involve good management, but it is more than that. It is taking a position, it is driving a message, it is communicating and, while listening, pushing the message to everyone in the organisation. It is about passion and belief in the way that the organisation needs to move. It is about taking a risk when necessary, being honest when 'fudging' the message would be easier, and about doing the difficult things yourself.

I didn't say it was easy...

No comments:

Post a Comment