HARVARD OFFERS INSIGHT ON WHY SOME MANAGERS ARE DOMINATORS
The on-line Harvard Business Review just posted a piece entitled, “Good Bosses Switch Between Two Leadership Styles.” The two styles are managing by dominating subordinates versus inspiring through the prestige of being an expert in whatever occupational filed one is in. The author makes the point that both styles can be appropriate depending on the situation. While we agree that there are situations that call for a manager to hoard all information, intimidate, coerce, threaten, and/or laud his/her power over employees, the piece strongly suggests that one reason a boss might always use a dominating style is that s/he doesn’t have the skill, talent, smarts, etc. to use any of the other styles. In fact, we wonder if this is particularly true of leaders at the top of complex, multi-departmental organizations who may have been expert in one departmental task area, but have little to nothing to offer in other departmental areas. Dominating staff, even to the point of “disappearing’ some as a warning to others, seems an especially sound hypothesis in organizations with weak oversight from executive boards, or no oversight as in privately owned entities. We ended the HBR piece thinking that maybe OPM should add a question to the annual survey to ask employees to rank their supervisor’s tendency to manage via domination techniques rather than inspiring and energizing staff. With very rare exception, nearly everyone agrees long term dominators hobble, if not destroy, organizations.