Compliments of Thai Jasmine via Flickr

 It’s time to build bridges, not just burn down the other side. [Laura Ingraham]

This week in my Principles of Management class we discussed the rapid change of organizational structure. In essence, corporate hierarchy is imploding – replaced by more organic firms in which employees work alongside “unleaders” in a more equitable fashion. In other words, “I don’t work for you and you don’t work for me, but together we work to accomplish a common goal.” Under these conditions you no longer need the patronizing imprimatur of boss approval.

Systems theory explains that this restructuring is necessary so that businesses can adjust to changing conditions. Offices that operate as “closed systems” do so on a variety of levels – not only are they slow to adjust to external stimuli, but the manager in charge fails to act in collaboration with those “managed.” We do not in fact act in isolation.

In the new leadership model, you manage things, and you lead people. Control freaks ensure a closed system that’s shut off to its employees, that treats them as con artists who are trying to pull a fast one. Bedeian refers to this phenomenon as “dean’s disease.”  It’s a result of “…the tug of flattery that those in power are the heirs to and the comfort of being surrounded by people who never contradict them.”

Bureaucratic bosses (and peers) are overbearing to the point where it is unbearable. They act as a suffocating blanket as opposed to an uplifting reassurance – their primary motive being to ensure that you’re contained. Under these circumstances the safest thing to do may be to sanitize the office of your presence.

Our speech is an inferred reflection of our history. In describing a colleague’s actions that missed the mark, one of my friends mused, “His momma failed him.” Similarly, a guest speaker stated, “Everything I say is a reflection on me, my company, and God.” The bread crumbs of our behavior leave clues as to our character, our breeding, and our pedigree. It is therefore surprising that the ignorant and the unaccomplished feel like they can tell other people what to do.

The mysterious path to your full potential can be through just such stumbling blocks. The up-close and hideous and the oversized and atrocious can be the magical impetuses that force you to “get up offa that thing.” Hardship is the sand beneath your psyche, the grist that when incorporated produces the pearl of individual learning.


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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