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What’s managing gotten us anyways?

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Its time to ask the question, “what’s managing gotten us”? 

Its time to un-learn decades of bad behavior.  Don’t mis-understand, managing has a place, but years of ineffective behavior that we call leading is simply management packaged up in a cloak of yucky, ineffective power.  You know the “power” of which I write, we’ve all heard it:  I’ve got on my power tie/suit/whatever.  I’m in charge, I make the decisions.  Telling rather than listening. Tears…yes real tears. Its time to un-learn years of ineffective behavior and learn how to lead.  

We’ve created our own organizational den of psychopathy as we’ve become complacent to years of abuse. In fact, there is even a book about it: the wisdom of psychopaths: what saints, spies, and serial killers can teach us about success (Dutton, 2012) in which CEOs are mentioned multiple times.

The message when meeting with the CEO is “be brief, be bright, be gone(!)” – barf.  This is akin to “smile while I beat you.”  When we consider that engaging with team members (see “The power of recognition” blogpost) this is the most important job of organizational executives! This idea of “be brief,…” is highly counter-intuitive.  We don’t think anything of the scientific fact that executive leaders’ loose EQ points as they increase their positions.  And Anna Wintour, Executive Editor of Vogue has a Master Class in Leadership.

Seriously?  This is the same person that inspired “The Devil Wears Prada.”  Yet somehow, someway we see all of this as organizationally acceptable. 

Decades of management has gotten us:

  1. Poor engagement

  2. Workplace cultures that accept, and reward, bad behavior

  3. Reliance on ineffective bases of power (i.e., coercive, positional, utility)

  4. Workplace burnout

  5. Employees unable to work to their fullest capacity

  6. Flattened organizations, increasing the overall span of control

  7. Lack of compassion or empathy – sadly this is endemic and as old as the industrial revolution

When we put all of this abuse into context, consider how all of this impacts us, humans, and how we show up at work and beyond: at home. How does this impact our personal relationships and our ability to be fully present with the people we love?

Is there a better way? 

Yes!  If we begin leading, and leading from the heart (Kouzes & Posner), consider the difference. We now operate from a base of influence and respect for each other.  Leaders actively engage with everyone, making personal connections.  Leaders inspire everyone to function at their fullest capacity.  Imagine the possibilities when we have the ability to:

  1. Increase engagement, which means we are much more likely to be committed to the organization – its values, its vision, its strategy, and each other

  2. A workplace culture that values, recognizes, and rewards behavior aligned with leadership

  3. A base of power that is an influence-based relationship with team members

  4. A reduction in workplace burnout – because leaders take the time to recognize when team members are going into distress, and know how to correct it

  5. Employees able to work to their fullest capacity and excited to be there – more engagement!

  6. More supervisors, leads, and support members. This narrows the span of control and provides more learning as we progress into other positions and allows leaders to do their work.

  7. Compassion and empathy that every human needs to be fully self-actualized (Maslow) and doing their best work!

Its time. It’s time to re-envision leading and navigate our way out of this outdated management matrix.

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