Hidden Authoritarian Managers

Style #1:

I would like to introduce you to CEO Wilma who has trouble making decisions. She will gather information, ask for advice, get more information, and ask others for advice. Wilma seems to need 100% assurance that the decision she is making will be perfect and work out without fail.

Those on Wilma’s team wish that their leader were more decisive, less wobbly. Frustration mounts until someone hints that the Wilma needs to make a decision. The something in Wilma’s brain flips a switch from indecisive, to “I am the decider. She begins making decisions without conferring with anyone.

Yes, this is overdrawn. But in fact, most executives have very little in the way of process for how decisions get made. They bounce back and forth from trying to be participative by asking everyone for an opinion to making decisions “willy-nilly.”

Bungee-jumping executives destroy trust and leave the organization with the sense of having no solid leadership.

How can an organization remedy this? The Core4 answer is to develop a decision making process that is engaging, direct, and holds the system accountable for the optimum feedback that supports the decision.

The Hidden Authoritarian: Style #2

Meet the next executive, CEO Sylvan who speaks eloquently about “the team,” about “collaboration,” and about “shared decisions.” Sylvan’s team works diligently to come to a decision about a particular issue. While it appears they have a common understanding, Sylvan has remained silent or has been absent from the process, either physically or emotionally.

Suddenly the Sylvan decides to become engaged in the discussion, but with a very different perspective. The team view collapses, and the team members “agree” with the Sylvan’s point of view.

With that, the team appears to have made a unanimous decision, but what really happened?

Sylvan has broken trust with his team. He has failed the team in several ways.

First is the failure to engage – fully. By holding back, Sylvan is making his team run through an intellectual exercise. They may feel that their input was wasted or that their time was wasted. In either case, they begin to lose faith in Sylvan’s leadership.

Second is that the team may feel coerced into supporting a “boss decision.” If Sylvan had crucial information, it would have been best for him to provide this early in the discussion, not late.

Why would a leader operate this way? Mostly, because they believe it provides them with a sense of power. They are, of course, wrong, but providing the “answer” may reinforce some executives’ sense of power.