"Love it, Change it or Leave it!"


Didier Marlier

July 04, 2010

From Disruption to Engagement

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So, Dunga’s Brazil is finally heading home after betraying of all its “footballistic values”, having blindly followed leadership and organizational styles which were so obviously “un-Brazilian”. Far worse, Brazil lost its unofficial ranking of No1 favorite nation in the hearts of all true “futebol” lovers for the first time since 1958… But what annoyed me most, when sharing my concerns about the style and belief system of the coach Dunga, were the responses of some people in Brazil, displaying an attitude reminding me of the generals who dictated “order and progress” on the country during the 70’s: “Brazil, love it or leave it”… No possible discussions, no whistle blowing; those who challenge the system are traitors and need being eliminated…

This goes again the wise words of Brazilian publicist, Gisèle Lorenzetti (www.lvba.com.br), claiming that, “the biggest threat to society is to loose its capacity to be indignant”.

In a recent seminar, with a Swiss client, one of the participants proposed a far better slogan: “Love it, Change it or Leave it!” I noted this one and chose to share it immediately as it provides a nice balance:

  • Love it: Work should be an energizing place to be. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, explains that there are two specific levers which grant sustainable happiness, which we can easily transfer to the workplace: The impression to contribute to a business that has a strong sense of Purpose, a real “Meaning” (supporting the point of view brilliantly developed by General Van Riper, in a clip shared here a few weeks ago) and the feeling that I can influence things around me (rather than being a passive victim of circumstances). In other terms, if we want our people to “Love” the enterprise they chose to work for, we need to provide them with a powerful sense of Purpose and the authentic impression that they can influence things around them (sometimes called empowerment and accountability).
  • Change it: This addition is fundamental. It legitimates all those who, sometimes with an adequate style and sometimes not, try to demonstrate that “Challenging things is a powerful sign of engagement” as Chris Parker (ex-IMD now in M.T.I.) likes to say. Change initiated by our people is the most powerful and less exhausting type of improvement we, leaders, can hope for. Of course it requires from us to listen for understanding, ask open questions rather than disagree immediately, paraphrase to prove we have understood the intention behind the challenge, support the idea and challenge some unadapted aspects of it etc… But if we want the active commitment rather than passive obedience from those talented workers we need the most, encouraging them to “Change it” is a must.
  • Leave it: Life is too short to be wasted in a job which doesn’t suit us, within a firm whose values we don’t share or with people we simply dislike. I keep on being impressed by the consultancy McKinsey who manage to get a sizeable amount of their job from… people they fired! In fact, McKinsey doesn’t “fire people” (unless for rare reasons of values and ethics), it coaches them out. This is not cynical semantics. McKinsey, authentically helps people understand what staying with them might imply and, should they not be prepared for such a sacrifice, helps them with respect and intelligence to shine and be of better use in a new environment which will be a better fit. And people value this respect very highly to the point of recommending their ex-colleagues for future consulting assignments.

I’d like to thanks the many of you who sent their sympathies when they knew I was taken inside of a Swiss Army bunker this week by Beat Blaesi… In fact this has been a very special experience which took me to the top of a mythical pass, the Gothard and in an old Bunker, deep under a glacier lake. The bunker is transformed into a 4 stars hotel. For those of you who may be interested, here is the site:  (http://www.claustra.ch/en/welcome_en_static.cfm). It is simply amazing…

On my way to Paris for the whole week. Unusually busy month of July in Europe and Brazil… Have a great week all!



  1. Daniele


    As every week, I enjoy your blog….never obvious, always with some personal touch….I like very much Chris Parker’s statement….

    For me it will be Germany, Switzerland and NYC this week.

    Ciao from Vevey




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