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Margaret J. Wheatley Quotes


A writer and management consultant who studies organizational behavior.


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Aggression is inherently destructive of relationships. People and ideologies are pitted against each other, believing that in order to survive, they must destroy the opposition.
[Against]
 

Aggression is the most common behavior used by many organizations, a nearly invisible medium that influences all decisions and actions.
 

Aggression only moves in one direction - it creates more aggression.
 

And time for reflection with colleagues is for me a lifesaver; it is not just a nice thing to do if you have the time. It is the only way you can survive.
 

Circles create soothing space, where even reticent people can realize that their voice is welcome.
 

Destroying is a necessary function in life. Everything has its season, and all things eventually lose their effectiveness and die.
 

Determination, energy, and courage appear spontaneously when we care deeply about something. We take risks that are unimaginable in any other context.
[Determination]
 

Even though worker capacity and motivation are destroyed when leaders choose power over productivity, it appears that bosses would rather be in control than have the organization work well.
 

Everyone in a complex system has a slightly different interpretation. The more interpretations we gather, the easier it becomes to gain a sense of the whole.
 

For eons, humans have struggled to find less destructive ways of living together.
 

For example, I was discussing the use of email and how impersonal it can be, how people will now email someone across the room rather than go and talk to them. But I don't think this is laziness, I think it is a conscious decision people are making to save time.
 

For me, this is a familiar image - people in the organization ready and willing to do good work, wanting to contribute their ideas, ready to take responsibility, and leaders holding them back, insisting that they wait for decisions or instructions.
 

For us, someone who is willing to step forward and help is much more courageous than someone who is merely fulfilling the role.
 

Hopelessness has surprised me with patience.
 

I believe that our very survival depends upon us becoming better systems thinkers.
 

I believe that the capacity that any organisation needs is for leadership to appear anywhere it is needed, when it is needed.
 

I think a major act of leadership right now, call it a radical act, is to create the places and processes so people can actually learn together, using our experiences.
 

I think it is quite dangerous for an organisation to think they can predict where they are going to need leadership. It needs to be something that people are willing to assume if it feels relevant, given the context of any situation.
 

I think we have to notice that the business processes we use right now for thinking and planning and budgeting and strategy are all delivered on very tight agendas.
 

I'm sad to report that in the past few years, ever since uncertainty became our insistent 21st century companion, leadership has taken a great leap backwards to the familiar territory of command and control.
 


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