As dawn breaks over America this Monday morning, the screaming, the shouting, the intimidation, the abusive behavior begins anew.
The perpetrators – from supervisors to senior executives in corner offices – all have reasons or excuses for relying on this idiotic and harmful style of command and control. Their rationale for the irrational runs the gamut from “promoting honest and open dialog” and a need to “remind and enforce the seriousness of what we do,” to a panicked desire to “create a sense of urgency for a cultural transformation.” This kind of behavior has no traction with me or the vast majority of the victims, the people who actually do the work and serve the businesses’ customers.
Let me be clear lest someone take offense. I am not talking about isolated or even periodic fits of anger, sparked by subordinates who neglect their responsibilities, the consequences of which may harm the business. Anyone who has ever been a boss has had moments of outrage. No, I am talking about a style of management that is a consistent, day in, day out routine. It is, regrettably, a very common practice that is tolerated by corporate America.
Last night, as I returned home, I passed a billboard promoting an executive MBA degree with the tag line leaders are made, not born. With apologies to Jack Welch’s larger than life smiling face that was plastered on the sign, I wondered who taught the thousands upon thousands of management bullies these unbelievably bad habits. What management professor would ever claim credit for teaching this sort of leadership terrorism? At the other end of the spectrum, it is probably safe to say that no newborn baby enters the world as a jerk.
So the question is where did these management terrorists learn these toxic habits? If Jack Welch is correct, that leaders are made; his billboard promotion begs the question: who taught these people to be abusive? Noisy, demanding, mean-spirited parents? A jackass with a PhD after his or her name? Or is there some special poisonous management residency or fellowship that I am not aware of?
I would like your comments. It is not enough to share bad experiences. I want you to share your thoughts as to why you think some individuals behave so badly under the guise of being “a tough effective boss who is respected.”