Etsko Schuitema is the managing member of Schuitema Associates. He has an Honours degree in Social Anthropology, having done extensive research into employee discontention under the auspices of the Chamber of Mines. His work has since been developed into a business philosophy based on the universal principles of care, honesty and trust, which he lectures annually at Cambridge University. The universal application of his philosophy shows that it can be implemented at any business within any sector.
One of the products of Etskoís philosophy is his Leadership training course. This course is renowned for its content and the dynamic manner, illustrative of his personal commitment to the ethic, in which he delivers it. Etsko travels constantly throughout the world and has initiated significant improvements in employee commitment in many companies in the manufacturing, agricultural, hospitality, financial, ICT, media and retail sectors.
Etsko Schuitema has an Honours degree in Social Anthropology, having done extensive research into employee discontention under the auspices of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa. His work has since been developed into a business philosophy based on the universal principles of care, honesty and trust, about which he lectures annually at Cambridge University. The universal application of his philosophy shows that it can be implemented at any business within any sector.
Razia Khan interviewed Etsko Schuitema.
RK: You basically come into firms and you transform businesses by leadership training. You have a very unique take on how to improve businesses. Please discuss it for our readers.
ES: Our work is based on the conviction that a group succeeds or an organisation succeeds based on the degree on which an individual in the group is giving unconditionally to pursue the groupís objective. It is true for military organisations and for sports.
RK: Yes, the military organisation is a very good example that you gave because therein is the ultimate truth, you are actually giving your life away for your country to achieve a greater end.
ES: Absolutely. Our basic argument or fundamental is that there is a difference between a mercenary and a volunteer in a group. A mercenary is just there for material end; and as a result you can trust that person to go to an extramural or extra mile whereas a volunteer is a person who commits himself. By definition for group to exist the individual subordinated his own agenda, the direction that he wants to go to for the agenda of the group.
RK: So this comes in to leadership excellence, which is obviously where we start from. You have to make a paradigm shift. Basically the leader is there to enable you to grow you and care for you, which are what you explained as
fundamentals for everybody.
ES: Exactly. All the work that we do for businesses is based on research. The work is to find and understand the conflict in all the organisations. When an individual is going an extra mile it has got nothing to do with what has been done in the business. People do not go for extra mile for the organisation. So if you want to know what are the conditions for which people want to be here to make unconditional contributions for the enterprise. Now the work that we did with Chamber of Mines helps us to identify a couple of key themes that are absolutely universal conditions. If you could have tabula rasa you could create an ideal boss. What would be that person you feel? Just tell me how that relationship would be.
RK: You have interacted with enough organisations across the world to know that that is the universal truth.
ES: Yes. It was surprising to find that it is a universal truth. Well, everything is culturally relative, not supposed to be fundamentally consistent in human characteristics. So when I came across this theme in different culture want to understand the reason why.
RK: A person who cares for me as an employee.
ES: Exactly. People also see a boss as an honest, straightforward, fair, gives opportunity to learn, who encourages others. So in a sense there are always two themes that come out. First theme is the soft one that the boss should be understanding, supportive, caring etc. Then there is a harder theme. It is ideal that the bosses should be honest because when a person works for a boss who is honest that person wonít be ever dishonest. So this harder theme is about growth.
RK: I think this is the truth of human condition that everybody would want.
ES: If you work for some one because you really want to and that person asks you to do something, how will you respond?
RK: You will willingly do it.
ES: That means you actually allow that person to exercise power over you.
RK: And this is your whole concept of legitimate power, right?
ES: Yes. Our argument is this fundamentally any relationship of power is legitimate if the aim of the relationship is the caring of the subordinate. When the subordinates experience that the super ordinate cares for them the subordinates become willing. However, when the subordinates get this feeling that you are not concerned about them then they become resistant, and it really does not matter how much you pay people. We say that an organisation succeeds based on the degree to which the individuals go extra miles to pursue organisationís objective. This only happens when they work for the boss they want to. Fundamentally what it means is that you have to invert the directions of services in an important relationship ...
RK: Ö Yes, boss centered but
ES: The boss should provide his/her subordinates with choices along with guiding them. There should be an inversion of means and ends. Your end should be the person working for you not your task, and your means should be the teaching that you give to your subordinate. This inversion of means and ends yield beneficial transactions. Why leadership thinks it legitimate to use people as their means to produce the results. Fundamentally the aim of that relationship is illegitimate. It is possible and conceivable to have this inversion of means and ends; and only when this inversion happens, once there are changes in the directions of services happen you start engaging the deliberate intent to contribute.
RK: How you came to work in Pakistan?
ES: A friend of mine, a Pakistani man, worked in the project when we were working in South Africa i.e. about 6 years ago now. He thought that this could make a contribution in Pakistani context. So itís basically based on his invitation that is how I eventually came here, and it has been a wonderful experience working here in Pakistan.
RK: It is interesting that if we go along these lines then basically the individuals are giving all of them selves apparently, for the larger group and larger interest. So one might ask what is in it for me.
ES: That is absolutely appropriate because I think that many people consider it naÔve to be there to give or to serve. It is because we have been deeply schooled in the psychology of what is of use and of competition i.e. for my best interest is opposite to somebody elseís interest. Fundamentally that is false. When you compete with the world, when you construct your engagement with the life on the basis of what you want to get out of it you are not actually acting into your own interest; you are acting opposite to your interest.
If you ask people why do they work certain themes will emerge from their responses like that of security, fulfillment, harmony with others, ambition, etc. to achieve any of them you need to work otherwise you will be sitting on your sofas for weeks doing nothing, gaining nothing. The universe is very, very giving if you really just work for it.
RK: This level of maturity of accepting that as the reality where you now have to start giving and not taking as much. I do not think that most people are ready for it.
ES: That might be true but actually we do not have a choice. How easily can you change yourself, it is the person him or her self who can bring a change.
RK: Thank you very much Mr Schuitema.
ES: Itís been great talking to you. *