The “Inner Democracy” of Leadingship

Rune Kvist Olsen has published a new paper, entitled:

* The DemoCratic Workplace. Empowering People (demos) to Rule (cratos) their own workplace. Organizing Individual and Group Decision Processes through Personal Competence-based Authority. By Rune Kvist Olsen, 2009

It distinguishes leadership from leadingship, and traditional forms of representative democracy, considered as an “outer democracy”, including in the workplace, with a new type of Inner Democracy.

Some excerpts:

1. Leadingship vs. Leadership:

“Leadingship is refering to the function of leading in the process of joining personal authority and individual competence throughout the performance of work. The individual person is leading oneself in mutual and equal understanding with others through a Shared Reality Conception in the workplace. Everyone is a leader within their respective area of responsibility, and have the power of authority to make individual decisicions and to influence on decisions concerning their respective field of work.”

This is to be contrasted with:

“Leadership is refering to the leader as a person. The leader with the superior rank, is assigned to the task of command and control in leading the inferior subordinates to follow the imposed orders. The subordinates are awaiting orders as followers in the cause of doing their jobs and performing their work when the responsibility is given from the person in the position above. The subordinates are performing servantship in their obidience towards their superior leader.”

2. Inner (workplace) Democracy vs. Outer Democracy:

“An “Inner Democracy” is based on the belief in the internalized resources, energy, capacity, capability, and competence of the individual. In other words “Inner Democracy” grants everyone in the workplace personal authority to perform their jobs as responsible and independent persons. “Inner Democracy” is the source of a “Participatory Democracy”. A “Participatory Democracy” is a direct form of governance where the individual is responsible for his or her respective area of work. The person has within this field of work, autonomous authority to make independent decisions.

The unconditional trust of the individual human being to make autonomous decisions in a “Participatory Democracy” can be described as follows:

1. The individual human being is capable of ruling and governing his or her own person and taking responsibility for his or her own actions in the workplace. Each individual operates with personal freedom as a trustworthy member of the working community. Mutual trust and personal freedom are unconditionally granted (in contrast to conditional privileges that are given as rewards or compensation) as a prime value and support in the performance of tasks. These values are the driving factors in developing and maintaining awareness and consciousness of the people’s contribution whether it is alone as individuals or together as a collaborative force in the work-process.

2. The individual human being must conceive the fact that all individuals are different as human beings and have unique resources and competencies that are complementary in the processing of work. On this basis it must be acknowledged that everyone’s contributions are necessary in achieving the goals of the group as a whole. The effort to release human potential and latent human resources is the enabling mechanism that can ensure that different jobs are done in the organization by the individual person through collaboration with others.

“Outer Democracy” is, on the other hand, based on the belief of governance by externalized authorities. The need for superior authorities in charge of subordinates is caused by fear and mistrust about the ability of the individual human being to act responsibly and to be trustworthy through the leading of one self in the workplace. This fear and anxiety of the people’s ability to function and operate as responsible and independent persons at work, is the basis for the creation of an organizational regime based on control and command. Consequently the superior authorities confirm their prejudiced misconceptions about people by controlling and commanding the individuals through controllers and control-systems in the workplace. In that way these authorities will think that by controlling the people, they will prevent the anticipated unpredictable and undesirable consequences that would occur if people were allowed to operate as free persons in the workplace.”

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