Understand the language of leadership.
Metaphors are among our principal vehicles for understanding and they play a central role in the construction of reality. (Lakoff).
Leaders who are aware of the power of story and metaphor to convey ideas can more effectively and responsibly guide the leadership and change process. Some of the well-explored metaphors are organization as machine, as organism, as brain, as culture, as political system, as psychic prison, as flux and transformation, and as instrument of domination. Metaphors are not only helpful in understanding organizational life; they are also being applied to influence the people in the organization. The leadership’s choice and usage of metaphors in the organization often reflect a certain paradigm and worldview. (Morgan)
By studying the metaphors, which the leaders use, people can get an idea of the inherent worldview and paradigm of the organizational leadership. Metaphors are indicative of a leader’s thinking and form a foundation for his or her actions.
I’m running a fine-tuned machine! (Donald Trump, Feb 16, 2017)
Organizations have been thought of in machine-like terms for more than a century. Grounded in a Newtonian view of the universe, classical organization theorists argued that organizations should be orderly, predictable, and designed for maximum control.
The most universal challenge that we face is the transition from seeing our human institutions as machines to seeing them as embodiments of nature. … Perhaps treating companies like machines keeps them from changing, or makes changing them much more difficult. We keep bringing in mechanics – when what we need are gardeners. (Peter Senge)
In your organization, do you feel more like a part in a machine, which will be replaced if it breaks, or like a plant in a garden, which is nurtured to grow to its highest potential?