Archive

Archive for June, 2011

Abusive Bosses And Unhealthy Management Take An Enormous Toll

June 27th, 2011
Comments Off
“I’ll tell you what the real problem is,” Ralph told me with a confident smile. “I’m a high-level performer. But most everyone around me – my peers, direct reports, upper management – they’re incompetents, jerks, or total idiots. Take your pick.”

“This company values incompetence,” he continued. “That’s the real problem. That shows you how screwed-up it is. But they’re telling me that I’m the problem! That I need help? It’s the people upstairs that need it!” He shook his head in dismay.

Sound familiar? People like Ralph are all too common in companies today. He illustrates just one type of abusive boss, often part of an overall unhealthy management culture that takes an enormous toll on both workers and business success.

In this post I describe some examples of that toll in today’s workplace culture and point towards some ways to deal with them — ways that require something different from the usual coping and stress management strategies.

You might guess, correctly, that Ralph was oblivious to the fact that his description of others was how his co-workers and subordinates described him. One of his colleagues had e-mailed him after their last encounter, saying “If you ever set foot in my office again, I’ll throw your ass right out the window.” Ralph dismissed that with a wave of his hand, saying, “That’s typical – he’s threatened by me because he knows I’m leagues beyond him. Always have been.”

Ralph is a senior executive and, in fact, a high-level performer in his company. But his abusive management and poor relationships were generating a growing chorus of complaints. To its credit, his company wanted to salvage rather than fire him, and offered him an executive coaching program. But Ralph saw this as punishment.

Of course there are psychological roots to behavior like Ralph’s. But that doesn’t matter much to the people who have to deal with the consequences on a daily basis. Read more…

Share

Psychological health in a post-globalized world, Work & Career "4.0" , , , , ,

Why People Are Caught Between Public Lies And Private Truths

June 9th, 2011
Comments Off

The latest “sex and power” scandals flashing across the media in the last few weeks underscore just how commonplace, even repetitive, they’ve become. Some are new, like the sexual assault charges against former IMF President Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revelation that he had fathered a child with a former member of the household staff. Some are recycling, like John Edwards’ indictment or Newt Gingrich’s presidential aspirations, which revive memories about his lying about an affair while impeaching President Clinton for lying about an affair.

The list goes on, the latest being the Anthony Weiner’s “rolling disclosure” episode. The Washington Post recently compiled may of the scandals into a nice summary – for those who are interested in keeping track.

But I think this steady stream of sex-related scandals is just the most titillating and graphic part of something more widespread and troublesome in the lives of many men and women today: the gap between people’s public lies and private truths.

That is, many people live with contradictions between their inner lives (the truths about their desires, emotional experience, self-image and ideals) and what they do with those truths behind the scenes, hidden from view (their private selves), and the lives they conduct publically, in their career paths, their relationships with their families or others they deal with and the positions they espouse or advocate (their public selves).

Public lies that contradict private truths have been part of our culture for some time. But in my work with people over the last few decades, I’ve seen it grow more rapidly since 9/11 and the economic/political events of the last few years. As I reflected on the reasons for this gap, how it damages people and our society, Read more…

Share

Midlife Conflict and Renewal, Politics, Psychological health in a post-globalized world, Work & Career "4.0" , , , , , , ,