Self-Governance and Self-Empowerment: A Lesson from Children?

Last evening, I happened to find out that the group of 7- and 8-year olds on my son’s school bus had used self-governance and self-empowerment for good intent.

For a long time, I had heard complaints from my own 8-year old that “so and so” was naughty on the bus, “so and so” spilled drinks on the bus, and so (and so) on. I’m sure he has been no angel either. When my son told me last evening that it was his turn to bring 3 sweets in on Thursday, I naturally asked why. He said it was for the boys on the bus. It turns out that the boys had made what to me was a “collective agreement” to award a sweet each to the 3 most quiet boys on the bus. The boys tooks turns to bring the sweets in, having drawn a slip from a tumbler to decide which day was their turn. I asked Andre who decides who gets the sweets and he said “the boy who brings the sweets that day can decide … so every boy can decide on one day” meaning every boy gets a chance to decide on some day. I have yet to ask the bus driver if things have improved on the bus but I reckon it would have for if Andre is anything to go by, the children like the friendly competition, to remain as quiet as possible on the bus and be rewarded by another child. Never have I been given so much advance notice about something he has bring in to school! I guess he is looking forward to Thursday when he gets to decide on the 3. The boys like being the judge and the judged. I am quite amazed by the structure that these little children have created, including the self-governance and self-empowerment, from just a ride on the school bus.

Is there a lesson here that can be applied to teams? How can teams empower and govern themselves to achieve better results without having to rely on external rewards and recognition?

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