13May

Do you think that every work/office space should have a few punching bags around? Sometimes I definitely feel there is some merit in the idea.  All that violence and stress bottled up inside cannot possibly be good for anyone. Violence, stress, punching bags – does not exactly fit the theme of my blog, Happy in the Now.  But hey – work is not all sweetness and light particularly when you have to work sometimes with people who have the talent of bringing out the worst in you. I have written about the barriers to operational excellence before and about behaviors that are best avoided at the work place. This week’s post is focused on the leadership or management styles that block progress and help no one – not the managers or leaders nor their teams and certainly not the organization.

With great power comes great responsibility – leaders and managers need to keep this in mind in all their daily interactions and do everyone a favour by keeping a firm check on these punch-bag reminder inducing styles:
Management/Leadership Style #1 – Waffling: Here is the dictionary definition of the word and I am quite sure some images/experiences will pop up in your mind:
Waffling – present participle of waf·fle (Verb): 1. Fail to make up one’s mind 2. Speak or write esp. at great length, without saying anything important or useful.

This is the work place equivalent of the Hamlet soliloquy – To be or not to be…be, not be, be, not be– God, can you please make up your mind and move on and let your team get to the work at hand  ?

Management/Leadership Style #2 – Death by Committees: This one starts with – sounds like a good idea, let’s set up a meeting to decide who needs to decide, and invite them to a meeting to decide when it needs to get decided and then set up a meeting to discuss who else need to be invited that needs to decide and then set up a meeting to discuss what we need to decide – hey! Can you please remind me what the great idea was again?

Ok, so I know that there is research that says there is wisdom in crowds but seriously, can we please stop killing all possible innovation and initiative through this inclusive decision-making (read as death by committee) style?

Management/Leadership Style #3 – I am the victim – This style shows up in full bloom when the time comes to take hard decisions and set ownerships.  Some symptoms to diagnose this style is when someone says –  Hey don’t ask me why things are not working because I am just the new person here/the markets are down/whoever drew up the budget or the plan was smoking something/no one supports me/other people don’t know how to do their jobs/ whine whine whine whine whine……

You are a manager or leader because sometime somewhere you did do something right. Can you please stop whining and get your act together again – everybody knows the problems, YOU are the person who has to provide the solution – that is why you are where you are.

Management/Leadership Style #4 – My way or the highway – This is the style of the professional bully who relies on his/her title, or a loud voice, or a threat or other trappings of power to force complete submission of subordinates or colleagues and does so because he/she can, and because that’s the only way he/she knows how to manage.

But seriously, the command and control style of leadership was outdated even a century back – isn’t it time to change your style so that people actually WANT to work for you or with you?

Management/Leadership Style #5 – Divide and Rule –  Best explained in Wiki (derived from Latin: divide et impera) (also known as divide and conquer) is a strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. In this case, insecurity rules, the leader/manager’s own insecurity makes him/her intentionally create disharmony, goes about collecting information (the water-coolers sessions equivalent) from team about team-mates, discusses and is dismissive about subordinates in front of their peers and actually pits one against the other. When this happens, the subordinates would obviously not come together as a team and be a threat to his/her security.

Excuse me – but the Cold War is over, can you please stop behaving like a secret agent/playing childish games and grow up and be the fair and trust-worthy leader that your team needs you to be?

We all need to look into the mirror frequently and do some honest evaluation of our leadership and management styles. It is easy to slip and slide and fall prey to the trappings of power – remember the adage, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely? Introspect, Acknowledge and Change – it is never too late to be the leader or manager we should be (and then the idea of punching bags in the office would become obsolete!)

So did reading my post ring any bells for you? Do you have some “boss from hell” or “the best boss” stories to share? I would love to hear back from you.

7 Comments:

    • Tapanesh
    • August 06, 2012
    • Reply

    My boss has been of a different kind.
    – always giving the space & independence to own the work & be responsible for it. It creates a sense of ownership & when the work/job is done a sense of accomplishment.
    – a fallback option & a person who will lift you when your morale is down.
    – a clear person with a defined thought process. If you have done something wrong then the boss “scolds” & you are correct then the boss will “standby” you always. This creates a sense of security in the team.

    And you know who I’m talking about here. Thanks for being my boss.

    Regards,
    Tapanesh

    • david williams
    • August 08, 2012
    • Reply

    Agree with your entire article. Thank you for sharing Suchitra

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