At Slow Leadership, we try to remind people of truths that have been around for a long time:

  • that haste makes waste;
  • that driving your people to the edge of breakdown isn’t something to be proud of;
  • and that an essential part of the job of a leader is to create and preserve a workplace that’s a more civilized and satisfying place to work than it was when he or she found it.

A civilized workplace is one where people have the time and freedom to do their jobs to the best of their ability. No one is bullied or hassled by some boss high on ego and testosterone. Leaders trust their subordinates to do what they’re paid to do; and subordinates trust their leaders to act with their interests in mind as well as the firm’s profits (and the executives’ stock options).

It’s a place where the pay is fair in relation to the nature of the work, and raises are awarded to those who deserve them, not based on some arbitrary formula designed more to cut costs than recognize merit. People aren’t expected to ruin the rest of their lives and relationships to save the boss’s butt or make the business look good in the eyes of some Wall Street hacks. In a civilized workplace, work/life balance has real meaning; and those that choose to honor parts of their lives outside of work aren’t immediately marked down as “lacking commitment.”

Civilized workplaces are good to be in. Productivity is high, because people enjoy what they do and put a lot of themselves into their work. There’s a sense of fun, as well as deep purpose. Lots of people want to work there; talented ones easily choose to stay. You can feel the difference when you walk through the door, just as you can feel instantly the hostility, depression and frustration in a workplace run on Enron-type, pseudo-scientific, neo-Taylorist principles and executive arrogance.

So how civilized is your organization? To find out, hop over to Slow Leadership and try the quiz. Maybe your organization will come out smelling of roses. Maybe it won’t. Whatever the outcome, I hope the quiz will help you think about what you might need to do, in your own leadership sphere, to increase the level of civilization in your bit of the workplace.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman and a retired business executive. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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