Advances in technology grant individuals more freedom than ever, yet businesses continue to take it away—stifling it by adhering to outdated, inflexible, top-down, command-and-control styles of management. And it’s to their detriment. According to a new study by LRN, companies that want to be innovative, competitive and profitable must embrace a type of freedom that balances their goals with new opportunities for self-expression.
The concept is not just a feel-good recipe for better employee relations. “The Freedom Report” found companies that build freedom into their relationships—with employees, customers, supply chain partners and stakeholders—are 10 times more likely to outperform traditional organizations in the short-term and 20 times more likely in the long-term—resulting in greater innovation, better financial performance and sustainable success. It also found that nearly half of all companies still fall in the low-freedom category, making them less equipped to meet growing demands for innovation, new ventures and global collaboration.
“For companies to grow and thrive in this vastly changed business environment, they must move away from a leadership style that is antiquated, inadequate and too focused on hierarchies,” said Dov Seidman, LRN’s founder and CEO. “The best path to sustainable growth is allowing individuals to achieve and innovate without conventional constraints and barriers.”
Seidman put forth this provocative argument at last week’s World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where he spoke about the role freedom plays in reshaping the world. An author, speaker and thought leader, Seidman has long emphasized self-governance and inspired, ethical leadership in his work helping companies and their people operate in both principled and profitable ways.
“The only way businesses can meet their long-term goals is to embed them in values that are worthy of our dedication,” he said. “When a company truly lives by this set of values, employees feel a greater sense of freedom that enables them to fully contribute their thoughts and ideas.”
To learn more about the “Freedom Index,” drawn from a survey of more than 800 professionals and executives at U.S. companies employing more than 1,000 people or having revenues of more than $1.5 billion, visit LRN’s blog. You might also be interested in reading Seidman’s World Economic Forum blog, “What does freedom in business mean to you?”