Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Take Three Steps Toward Giving Up Control

Pink, Daniel H. (2009) Take Three Steps Toward Giving Up Control. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. (pp165-166). New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Annotation by Melissa Han


Pink lists three practical ways that a “boss” of a company or group can relinquish control. One way is to involve people in goal-setting. When people are involved in the process of creating goals then there is more buy-in and often strive for higher goals than the “boss” imagined. The second is to use noncontrolling language like “must” or “should”. He suggests using words like “think about” and “consider”. This shift in language can encourage engagement instead of compliance or defiance. The subtlety of this second strategy was eye opening for me because I realized how seemingly small acts can hugely hinder motivation in my students. The third final way to release control is to hold office hours. This strategy suggests freeing up a couple hours a week when people can come and talk to you about anything. Opportunities such as these allows for the “boss” to learn something from the interaction.

Pink’s suggested ways to relinquish control taps into fostering an environment where mutual trust is sought after but can only begin when the one in leadership begins to trust those that he/she leads. Although the word “relinquish” is defined as surrender, it seems to me that within the context of Pink’s article, empowerment to do great work happens to both for those who lead and for those who are led because everyone involved believes that they have a say in the process and outcome together. The quality of the work then goes through a transformation because of the changing relationships between those involved through the releasing of control.

It begs the question, why do we, educators, feel the need to control the environment in our classrooms when it actually doesn’t produce the desired outcome? Instead we are faced with only an illusion of control. Our students comply out of fear or defy out of protest. Letting go of the fears that corner us into control may actually free us up to experience a higher quality of learning and higher quality of relationships with our students.

Relevant Quotes/Concepts

~”Extending people the freedom they need to do great work is usually wise, but it’s not easy.” (165)

~”…begin letting go-for your own benefit and your team’s” (165)

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