Leadership & the ‘No Ass**** Rule’ - Act your age not your shoe size
One thing that really bugs me is people who bully others to get their own way. It has no part to play in shaping a culture that maximises the potential of all. Besides, managing and retaining "talent" is difficult enough.
Having a bullying approach to managing just drives the best people away, and creates a seething resentment amongst others, and has a huge impact on a company's TCA (more on this later).
There is just no need to adopt childish schoolyard tactics to get your own way. And yet it does happen.
To recognise that this is a problem in today's organisation I consulted a brilliant book which I had bought last year. I was reading through it preparing for a training session for the coming week. It's a book written by Bob Sutton who is a leading academic at Stanford. The title of the book is "The No Asshole Rule". It's subtitle says it all - "Building a Civilised Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't."
Bob Sutton & The No Ass**** Rule
Bob Sutton is a Business School Professor at Stanford in Connecticutt near to GE University at Crotonville. I like his approach - he hits the hard issues and focuses on the key people in the news. His regular column focuses on 'Bullying' and how not to become a real 'Asshole' and draws on the writing and thoughts of Suzi and Jack Welch (Jack is ex CEO, legend and miracle worker of change management of General Electric Suzi was Editor of the Harvard Business Review).
Suzi and Jack draw a distinction between various types of Leaders and much of their ideas are based on what Jack did in his 20+ odd years to turn a huge lumbering bueaucratic giant (that was GE in the late 70's) into todays 'fleet of foot' performer.
Jack Welch - No Bullying Culture
Before Immelt became CEO of GE, Welch lay a firm foundation on no bullying. The 'old' strong performance culture had previously yielded an extremely tough set of managerial styles bordering on the dictatorial approach.
From Welch's early days in the business, he was determined that the old style would be driven out of the culture and replaced by a style that maximised the potential of all staff without being in any way 'laisez faire' or 'touchy feely'.
I know it is true because I have worked in many of the GE businesses, and the fundamental drive behind introducing change was instilling a strong behaviour of celebrating the potential and achievement of all, dealing with people as assets and useing praise.
If GE Can Do It We Can Too
If Jack can lay the guidelines, leadership style and values of the business to achieve an outsanding culture reflected on double digit proftability growth for 20 years and without intimidation then the rest of us can easily follow his example.
The book - "The No Asshole Rule" is easy reading. Bob talks about the "inner Jerk" that befalls us all. Unfortunately, over the years I can relate people's style of management to the examples he outlines. I have been both the unwilling and outraged recipient many times of this behaviour and also unfortunately, on occasion, the instigator of such behaviours. Whereas, some people just get used to it and adopt it as the default style.
These people reap what they sow. It's how they express their personal power and how they get their satisfaction, but there is a huge cost associated with this behaviour. You see it niggles away at their own self worth and secretly they wish they could repair the damage.
Unfortunately, those who don't repent and relent suffer big time when it becomes their default manner of interacting and managing. They become enraged stress monkeys and pay for the consequences of their behaviour with their health and welling.
What's Your TCA?
What is the Total Cost of Ass**** in Your Organisation? It can include damage to victims and witnesses to the events and the rumours that spread through the organisational grapevine. It spreads quickly even including suppliers, customers and business partners and, eventually potential investors.
It's most prevalent in organisations where the top team have little self reflection of their behaviour and the impact this has on others.
Then there is time spent dealing with legal issues in Tribunals, out of Court settlements, counselling, time lost, stress, ill-health - even sabotage and collusion expressed by employees trying to get even. Those who have high potential will not tolerate the atmosphere and will leave. Those who have less choice of moving, concentrate on protecting themselves and never give their best.
Making Good Business Sense
To be honest it's not worth being an 'Asshole'. It only drives up blood pressure of all concerned, and who wants to rule by fear when there are so many better and more productive ways of doing business?
I'll leave you with a few examples of "Asshole" behaviour outlined by Bob ...........and you may want to self-assess on when you demonstrate these behaviours.
.................and remember to pay Bob's website a visit and do the Asshole Test or, better still, get someone else to do the test from their perspective of your behaviour.
The Dirty Dozen Ass**** Test Behaviours
Luckily, I have not come across too many organisations displaying these tendencies, but all of us need to take a good look in the mirror from time to time just to ensure we are not the Asshole!
I have a feeling that we will be contributing more on this in the next few weeks.
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