Friday, March 09, 2007

Did You Get Hammered This Week?

Speaking of hammers… This past week I kept running into people that seem to think that “The Hammer” is the ultimate management/leadership tool. By “The Hammer”, I mean their position within the organization.

Now, I have to admit, I found this more than a little interesting. Considering you can’t throw a rock without hitting a book or article published by the Leadership Industrial Complex (LIC) that doesn’t identify positional leadership as the lowest form of leadership power, I was amazed that every time I turned around, there it was.

While I don’t often agree with LIC thinking, I have to admit to being on board with this line of thinking.

As a leader, one of the worst it not “the” worst thing you can do is constantly remind your people that you are the boss and then go about proving it to them by threatening to withhold or actually withholding the fulfillment of their needs and/or wants.

The more I thought about it, the more I have concluded that people do this because reprimand management is their fall back position; when all else fails, they are still the boss. I guess there was a lot of failure or fear of failure going around this week.

If I had to identify the source of most of what I have come to label “reprimand management”, at least the source outside of being a genuinely poor leader, I would have to say it falls on the shoulders of Ken Blanchard. While I don’t believe Dr Blanchard ever intended to promote positional leadership as a fallback leadership tactic, the management style immortalized by “The One Minute Manger” relies on reprimands as a cornerstone of follower motivation.

Here in lies the rub, what represents an appropriate reprimand? At what point does a reprimand cross the line? At what point does a paternalistic scolding, intended to change a behavior negatively effect motivation or commitment?

When Ken Blanchard was doing the underlying research supporting the methods in the One Minute Manager, it may have been a safe bet to use a paternalist approach with a more-or-less homogenous work force. However, with today’s diversified work force coming from different background and myriad expectations of work, you can’t depend on the right connection being made and the right push or change in behavior.

Speaking of behavior, don’t forget, desired behavior is part of that 70% we were talking about last week. It’s a persons back or time, and should not be confused with the competitive advantage that you find in the last 30%.

So, if you can’t depend on your hammer to deliver the 70% of your people that is for sale, how can you even consider depending on it to deliver the remaining 30% that is your only hope of ever being competitive in your market?

In other words, you are on thin ice, and using a hammer to check the thickness may not be the best idea. In fact, in all likelihood, that leadership method sucks.

As I said last week, “If you don’t want your leadership to suck, it’s time to expand your collection of tools.”

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Enjoy...

John

1 comment:

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