Renald Thillou, Sweden


“Nobody Is As Smart As Everybody”

Years spent to managing organisations and individuals, most of the time in multicultural settings either in South Pacific, Middle East, Africa or Europe, and one word pops into my mind: trust.

Individuals need trust in order to let go, take initiatives, make decisions, and be creative for the sake of the organisation they belong to. Still too often managers are reluctant to trust their staff either because of the hierarchical pressure (“I don’t have time to trust”) or because of their own biases (“my team cannot succeed without me”). This reluctance highlights purely and simply a lack of collective intelligence in the organisation.

Indeed, if a middle manager pressures its team leaders, obviously the team leaders will pressure their co-workers in turn: consequently pressured co-workers will end up focussing their attention more on the mood of their manager than on the quality of their duties, and so forth till the top of the company. Likewise, a boss full of biases regarding the capabilities of its team members tends to lock its organisation with tortuous processes and to abstain from any delegation of power. In both cases, lack of trust results in creating static organisations: at best status quo that prevents letting go and creativity, at worst poisonous atmosphere or counter-productive conflicts that prevent initiative and decision-making.

The only antidote is collective intelligence. In essence trust is a gift that allows the receiver to make mistakes and to learn from failure, and the primary lesson individuals draw on failures is: the more the collective reflection the less the individual mistake, because nobody is as smart as everybody.

That is why I have chosen Gaia. In the philosophy of Gaia, leadership is not managing people; leadership is managing the dynamic that connects people to each other. Thus leadership becomes the matter of everybody; everyone is a leader, be it in its relationship to its peers, its staff, its customers or suppliers, its hierarchy, and even in its relationship to its inner life. When this philosophy of leadership is admitted, adopted, integrated and finally assimilated, then suddenly top-down trust opens avenues for bottom-up trust, individuals learn and grow and in turn finally make their organisation learning and growing.

Renald Thillou

Partner at Gaia Leadership since 2017