This brings us back to Likert’s system categories. The I-it relationship would be present in the most authoritative system, what Likert would call exploitive authoritative and the I-thou would be in the participative group. In between the two are benevolent authoritative and consultative. In the exploitive authoritative system, the relationship between leadership and subordinates is dubious. Management maintains control through negative reinforcement. They are suspicious of subordinates and only reward them when they do what they are told and do not deviate or speak out against management. The exploitive authoritative system is very autocratic and the leadership at the top has a lot of freedom to make decisions but the lower levels of management are treated and feel similar to the subordinates in that they have very little freedom. They are treated like replaceable objects. The result is that subordinates do not feel invested in the organization. They do not care about its success or its goals and may act in ways that are contrary to the organization’s mission. The system I want to promote is on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Participative systems are democratic and involve the subordinates in the decision making. This is easier said than done. Just because someone is hired into a system does not mean they are immediately going to make positive contributions to the organization. Development and training are important in this system, especially within the context of personal and professional development. If an organization is going to conduct itself ethically, then subordinates must know what this means and how to work towards it. They must also be able to be evaluated and coached in a way that helps them work towards the organizations goals. Participative systems develop strong individual identities among their employees and allow them a great deal of autonomy in how they accomplish their tasks. This system tends to be the most productive, have the happiest employees, and have a strong sense of loyalty and sense of community among its employees.
Senge’s five disciplines for systems thinking are conducive to Likert’s explanation of participative systems. The first discipline is Personal Mastery. This discipline essentially deals with one’s own personal development within the job. Self motivation, problem solving, managing conflict, and honest interpersonal relationships are the building blocks of this discipline. Those abilities are the difference between someone who acts autonomously and someone who acts as a pawn for someone else.
Senge’s second discipline are Mental Models. The use of mental models is to encourage reflection and discourage linear thinking. In other words, by reflecting we can learn from our decisions and the resulting actions. Subordinates ability to problem solve will often be determined by the confidence provided them by their superiors and mental models are a way to encourage problem solving,...