Over-Managed and Under-Led
Former head of the Strategic Air Command, General Jack Chain, continually emphasized, “You lead people and manage things.” Yet how often do leaders confuse or abuse this principle, with the all-too-common result being that such leaders wind up treating people like things that need to be managed rather than individuals who need to be motivated by competent leadership?

We live in a world that, with rare exception, rewards managers but avoids developing leaders. Why? For the most part, managing ensures that what needs to be done is done within an existing system—a familiar system. Good management requires an understanding of the existing system and keeping it efficient and effective. Leadership is about getting others to move beyond the familiar. When people actually lead, they upset the old familiar system and its vested interests. Managing the familiar tends to be much less threatening than leading people into an unknown and much less predictable future.

Both managing and leading require many of the same under-lying skills and qualities—for example: good communication, emotional intelligence, and emotional maturity. However, competent leadership demands, in particular, an ability to motivate others to stretch boundaries.

Points to consider:
• How often do you stretch boundaries?
• Are you encouraged and supported in doing so?
• Do you over-manage and under-lead?
• What problems concern you?
• To whom can you communicate your concerns?

The We’re Successful Syndrome
If an organization’s leadership becomes enamored with the success of what has worked—particularly with their own success within that structure—they can become emotionally dependent on retaining the status quo. In doing so, they blind themselves to the needs of an evolving environment and rationalize their resistance to any substantive change. “Look at how successful we are. We want people who can make the existing system even better. We don’t want people upsetting a proven success formula.”
This viewpoint effectively disallows true leadership development. Though programs may retain the title of Leadership Development, what is effectively allowed and offered instead are programs limited to management, as opposed to leadership development. The impact of this restricted and often misleading focus is that the adaptability and innovation needed for sustainability decline.

Sustainability, especially in a competitive environment, depends on keeping an effective balance between managing a working system and leading it into new arenas. In a dynamic environment, that balance is critical. Lack of balance is always evident in failed or declining organizations. Unless that dynamic balance is re-established, organizational success predictably becomes history. An organization caught in the “We’re Successful” syndrome requires the courage of true leadership, not solely the skills of well-paid managers doing what worked before.

Points to consider:
What non-contributing or destructive behavior is your organization doing simply because it worked in the past?
In what ways has your organization been exploring new frontiers, innovating, and taking risks?

Their Numbers Are Up
How often do we see obviously dysfunctional, emotionally immature people maintain their position and even be rewarded or promoted because their financial numbers are up? Mature leadership expects that positive, appropriate results be achieved. The viability of an enterprise depends on it. Numbers are a way to measure those results. They can be very helpful, if the appropriate measures are used.

Organizations are complex, and it can be helpful to simplify the measures that can expedite decisions and actions. However, when short-term financial or political factors play a significant role, these numbers are sometimes reduced to one or two bottom-line figures. Important factors that constitute real productivity and have long-term implications are often ignored or rationalized away. When that occurs chronically, the actual results are an inefficient use of resources, repressed communication, frustration, decreased morale, and the eventual loss of the best and the brightest.

When a dysfunctional executive’s bottom line figures are up, more often than not, those figures are not valid indicators of real productivity. Valid, positive results that do occur are more likely to be despite the person’s actions, not because of them. When an obviously dysfunctional executive is kept in place because his numbers are up, something is being denied or ignored. It is a sure sign of weak leadership—ignorant of or unwilling or unable to deal with what needs to be confronted.

Points to consider:
How careful do you need to be in discussing topics like this in your workplace?
Have you ever mistaken an upswing in your financial numbers for success?
Besides the numbers, what other indicators help you to determine if what you are doing is effective?

Mind Reading Required
How often do we see authenticity replaced with partial truths or outright lies? To what degree is a person expected to read between the lines of most communication? How often have we been kept on hold waiting for a decision that had already been made but was intentionally not communicated?

Communication of this type occurs continually in organizations. It always results in frustrations, inefficiencies, and loss of trust. The degree to which an organization’s leadership condones, encourages, allows, and does not confront lack of honesty and authenticity, directly indicates that leadership’s lack of maturity and integrity (which is always rationalized).

Points to consider:
How would you describe the quality of your immediate group’s communication?
How authentically does your supervisor communicate?
How authentic is your communication with your supervisor, peers, subordinates, and family members?
To what degree is misleading or meaningless communication part of your daily interactions?
How have you dealt with this type of situation in the past?

But I Intended to Do It
Intention is a necessary precursor to results, especially when you are trying to initiate change. Try to do something—get out of your chair—without intending to do so. You can’t do it. Conscious or unconscious, our intention is fundamental to what we allow in our perception of reality.

If we are willing to look, we can have a reliable means to understand anyone’s actual intentions, including our own, by observing what we actually wind up doing. What intention would someone need to create that result? For example, Judy was supposed to accomplish X. Instead, Y resulted. She said, “But I really intended to do X.” That statement simply is not true. She got Y. Therefore, at some level, conscious or unconscious, her intent was Y, not X—or a stronger Y intention overrode the X intention. She may have consciously wanted to do X but unconsciously had a stronger intention to do Y.

If someone is having difficulty executing what he needs to do, particularly when he supposedly has the skills to do so, look to his intention. The motive will be different than the person has claimed. Behind the actual intention, conscious or unconscious, will be some emotion upon which the person is fixated. It is usually hostility (overt or covert), fear (real or imagined), grief (stuck in some loss), or apathy (why bother?). All are various symptoms and degrees of feeling overwhelmed.

If an individual is exhibiting any dysfunctional symptoms, often simple observation shows a person feeling insecure and over-whelmed—often denied. Continuing dysfunctional behavior is the manifestation of a self-sabotaging intention or belief (again, conscious or unconscious). Addressing the symptoms—that is, the overt behavior—will not provide more than temporary relief. The underlying intention or belief needs to be brought to light and its motivation recognized, acknowledged (owned), and addressed. The Power of Intention, by Wayne Dyer, addresses the potential of this dynamic. (See section IIIc, page 55, and “The Genesis of Limitiation,” page 164 in THE LEADERSHIP INTEGRITY CHALLENGE by Edward Morler.)

Points to consider:
Think of an instance when your stated intention was different from your results. Are you aware of what your actual intention was?
What were you reluctant to communicate, acknowledge, address, or confront?

The Genesis of Crazy-Making
In studying schizophrenic behavior, Dr. Gregory Bateson observed that a person’s mental state appeared to be much more dependent on the interaction between the individual and his or her environment than on what was going on with his or her internal mental processes. With that observation, Bateson wanted to determine the kind of environment that could or would trigger schizophrenic behavior.

Based on additional studies, Bateson developed the theory of the Double Bind, a process and set of conditions which tend to create schizophrenic behavior. Drs. Chris Argyris and Donald Schön did a parallel study of organizations. They observed an almost identical process and set of conditions that result in schizophrenic behavior. That process and those conditions are the following:
The situation involves someone with authority over another.
The person with authority gives a direction or an order to a subordinate, along with some threat (implicit or explicit) of negative consequences for noncompliance. Example: “If you want a promotion, make sure I know everything that’s going on!”
The authority then gives a contradictory instruction containing a threat. Example: “You’re always telling me the problems. I want solutions, not problems. You had better start getting it right!”

This creates the Double Bind of “Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.” The following are what make the Double Bind crazy-making:
The authority makes two contradictory intentions or requirements that cannot be discussed and includes some form of threat. For example: “What contradictions? You’re creating problems where there are none!”
The authority makes what cannot be discussed undiscussible but pretends this is not so. For example: “What do you mean we can’t talk about it? You know I have an open-door policy on everything!”
The authority ensures that the other person feels he or she cannot leave the situation. Example: For senior executives, this deterrent may be in the form of “golden handcuffs.” For others, it simply may be a tight labor market or concerns about a negative reference.

The most troubling aspect is not that an organization has contradictions, but that the contradictions are undiscussed or, worse, undiscussable. Opening the door to resolution demands an honest assessment of one’s own role in a situation and a willingness and ability to discuss contradictions.

“Schizophrenergetic” (crazy-making) behavior is more prevalent in organizations than most people realize or are willing to acknowledge. It significantly reduces the likelihood of implementing needed change. This is particularly true in times of increased stress. How do we stay sane and responsibly proactive in complex environments, which can, naively or not, create schizophrenergetic behavior? Crazy-making environments can be righted if competent communication skills and willingness to dialogue are present. One of the most important things we can do is recognize how we may be contributing to schizophrenergetic behavior. If you observe crazy-making behavior, ask yourself, “How am I either creating, allowing, or contributing to this situation?” If we don’t recognize and take responsibility for our part, how can we ask others to take responsibility for their part?

The Silo Effect
How often do we observe a lack of communication and interaction among groups in the same organization? This isolating behavior, known as the Silo Effect, severely limits potential synergies of strategic and functional alignment. The loss of cross-selling opportunities among departments and divisions is but one example.

Reasons for this lack of communication can range from simple introversion into assigned tasks to significant turf issues. Regardless of apparent causes, the Silo Effect stems from insecurity based in real or imagined fear. That persisting fear is a result of issues not being confronted and addressed. This avoidance of responsibility must be recognized and brought to light if the organization is to capitalize on its potential. The degree to which the Silo Effect persists is directly indicative of insecure, apathetic, arrogant, or incompetent management and leadership. When present, it requires priority attention.

Well-designed and well-delivered communication programs, along with competent coaching, can be very helpful in relieving the Silo Effect, as can the Communication Clearing Process outlined in chapter 7, page 257. However, all will be for naught if people are afraid to speak their truth. The presence or absence of a safe environment in which honest communication and true dialogue can flourish reflects directly what senior management actually wants and is willing to allow.

The presence of spontaneous, authentic communication is an indication that senior management is relatively secure and has a healthy sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. This indicates emotional maturity at the top management level and suggests a positive prognosis for the organization as a whole.

The willingness and ability to honestly confront repressed communication has a greater impact on organizational effectiveness than personal charisma, management style, incentive programs, technical expertise, or product uniqueness. Those can be valuable, and sometimes vital, but they will not be utilized to the extent possible if repressed communication—of any nature—is present.

When the Silo Effect is lessened or eliminated, synergies occur; productivity and morale rise, often dramatically Effectively dealing with the Silo Effect, or any communication deficiency, should be a priority of senior management.

Points to consider:
• How prevalent is the silo effect in your organization?
• Between which groups is it most noticeable?
• How would you evaluate the effectiveness of those groups’ management?
• If you were CEO, what would you do?

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Morler is president of Morler International, a management training and development firm specializing in integrity-based interpersonal effectiveness. His focus is the custom design and delivery of bottom-line, functional skill enhancement programs that simultaneously integrate the principles and dynamics of integrity, emotional maturity, motivation, and leadership. Examples are negotiation, client relations, and leadership development. Dr. Morler conducts trainings for corporations and government agencies worldwide.