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How do you deal with bad/inadequate leadership?

Most people have encountered bad or inadequate leadership in their lives.

I have many different roles where I lead and am lead everyday, sometimes the decisions that are made by those "above" me are really poor, and reasoning with these people is often out of the question...

I'm looking for your story and how you solved it, or didn't.

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    Dec 8 2012: I'd say, no matter how significant or insignificant we are in an organization, we can impact the highest-level decisions by providing information to the key people. Information affects decisions. In the organization where I work, information that I provide to my superiors is often communicated with little or no changes to the customers and upper management. Once an idea is planted in someone's head, a person may soon internalize it to the point of considering the idea his or her own.

    What does not help is getting frustrated, annoyed and resentful. Rants rarely have any effect.
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    Nov 30 2012: I think it is also worthwhile to ask yourself whether reasoning with the person is truly out of the question. Sometimes it is and sometimes you only think it is.

    A couple of times I have been staff for kind of powerful people in their sphere who have told me what they appreciated most is that they could rely on me to tell them the truth. Powerful people sometimes have a problem that staff tells them only what they want to hear.

    You have to be really prepared in the sense of really having done your homework, typically, to challenge an unsound direction.
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      Dec 1 2012: My boss told me that I'm too honest for my own good, none of the improvements that I've suggested have even been taken into consideration, or if they have I've seen no results and gotten no feedback... I Always take the road of diplomacy and reasoning at first, but there has to be a limit to how long you can try this...

      And I certainly don't mean that I'm always discarded by everyone that has a leading role above me, what I'm wondering is: what do you do when reasoning doesn't work, when the answer is "ok,ok,ok, yes,yes,good,good,yes" and there isn't any sign that it actually was understood?
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        Dec 1 2012: Two questions then. First, do you do more good by staying or leaving? Second, are you talking about regret over lost opportunities to do good, or rather are you talking about being a partner to corruption or deceit? (I ask this because you mention his saying you are "too honest").
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          Dec 1 2012: There is still a chance that I can do much good by staying, also I have no other place to go to right now where I could do more good, but I haven't been looking much yet. Read my response to Lejan for more info on why I stay.

          I'm sorry but I don't understand the second part, could you re-phrase?
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        Dec 1 2012: Okay, so it sounds like you see a role for yourself in being the one who speaks up when others can't. Fair enough. Does your work also benefit the end user/customer in your line of work?

        I will try again on the second part. You mentioned leadership decisions being poor. I think it matters what sort of poor decisions you mean. Is the boss refusing to upgrade your product/services when you see a way of doing that at essentially no cost? Or is your boss embezzling money or doing something criminal under the laws of Sweden? Or is it more like he undermines the authority of, lies to, or micromanages those beneath him in the organization?

        It's one thing to stay when your boss is sluggish about improving services or intervenes in operations he really should allow his staff to undertake without his breathing down their necks. It is another to stand by when the boss is raiding the treasury or slapping people in his employ.
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          Dec 1 2012: Yes my work benefits the end customer, our product go directly to them.

          Yes, it's more like " (s)he undermines the authority of, lies to, or micromanages those beneath her in the organization"

          Now, this is just a bit of the whole sum of all the problems, I can't go into detail on much of since it's confidential and that would be breaking law and trust.

          If an employer slapped someone in Sweden they would be fired on the spot and charged with assault.
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      Lejan .

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      Dec 1 2012: Fritzie, having saved this Galaxy once, should do for my ego... :o)

      My comment on 'grand scale' roots back to my mothers wisdom, not mine, as she was the one who carefully corrected my tendency of megalomania at early age. I think she was right twice. First, to do so - and second, in what she meant... :o)
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    Dec 11 2012: From reading the comments below the common thread to success of leaders in an employment realm is respect and the will to listen. Alot of people who don't wish to take on a leadership role, perhaps realizing their strengths and weaknesses, still have great perception and often meet situations with other qualities, such as a huge spacial awareness or empathy, sound communication skills etc. These abilities make dealing with inadequate leadership even more difficult as often it plays on our sense of what is fair and just in the world.
    Linking the conversations below together I can see those who are employers and heads of department (often justifying the challenges of their role) and those who are employees (regularly been involved in an unhappy facist regime). I suggest looking at Charles Pink's study on rewards and why we work. It comes down to three fundamentals - Autonomy, mastery and purpose. We are all our own leaders and require a platform to become them in a work place, no matter what our role.
    Personally I have had some remarkable human beings at the helm of an -always working for the man- career. I have had some very inadequate also and ultimately this would result in my departure from a job, for if I am unable to have a forum to be excellent at what I do, or someone feels the need to micro manage when they should just trust, then I am empowered with the ability to walk away. The best leaders listen to their support staff and always use the word 'colleague.'
  • Dec 10 2012: As I've gotten older, I've learned to lower my standards when it comes to leadership. It doesn't fix anything, but it helps me get through the day.
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    Dec 2 2012: Hi Jimmy, A number of things. First if you are self employed then a fight with the boss is somewhat more serious. As a rule I would advise that if there is a dispute then it is advisable to see why the rift exists. If you are upset because they did not adapt your decision then you need to do some serious soul searching. If you just do not like it again search why.

    For those of us who have had the leadership role we know that not all decisions are popular. We also have the knowledge that the decisions have come down based on events or circumstances that have a impact to the operations or company policy ... not the least is profits. These reasons are not usually discussed with line staff.

    As employees we have to work within certain areas .... we are not always privy to the reasons.

    If you have a problem with the decision .. go to your supervisor and discuss the issue .. tell s/he that you want to be part of the team but do not understand where this decision is going and how can I best be a part of the effort. Most leaders are looking for support and will accept this. However if you dig your feet in then you are a problem ... nothing good will come from this type of action.

    Remember just because you think that decisions are bad/inadequate does not make it so.

    Remain flexable.

    On the other hand .... some decisions are just plain stupid. That is not your problem .. that is their bosses problem. Hang in there (or not).

    All the best. Bob.
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    Nov 30 2012: Twice I was supervised by toxic leaders in my career. By toxic leader, I mean a toxic person in a leadership position.

    I fought constantly with the first one. It was a rather difficult path.
    I left my job with the second one for an excellent new job. After our whole team left within four months, the Partners realized something was wrong. Six months after, they fired the toxic leader.

    If you cannot escalated above the toxic leader, I would recommend to change job. Trying to change the behavior of a toxic leader is not worth it (cost / benefits ratio).
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    Nov 30 2012: Constantly. A leader's job is to determine and implement appropriate action. Good leaders consider the facts; evaluate the options; set a course of action; and follow that course , or amend it as required. Jesus of Nazareth said, " And if the blind lead the blind both shall fall into the ditch." Often leadership is nothing more than getting us out of the ditch. The metric for evaluating leadership is decisions. Most failed leaders I have followed lacked the skill-set (primarily courage and intellect) to issue and execute appropriate marching orders. How is a problem of bad or inadequate leadership solved? In the past when I have realized I have better vision than my leader if possible I quit following. If the law says I must follow then I try to change the law and/or the leader. I think I knew most of this by the last few weeks of kindergarten. Thank you!
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      Nov 30 2012: Wow! In my last few weeks of kindergarten I was still struggling to cut a straight line with those horrible blunt children's scissors. At what age did you start talking? ;o)
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        Nov 30 2012: Actually, I had to repeat kindergarten. I blame it on bad leadership.
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          Nov 30 2012: You mast have become the 'master of scissors' then! How enviable! :o)

          At the age of five even the best leadership is pretty much challenged by our natural instinct of stubbornness. Some nursery school teacher may still suffer from the post traumatic stress disorder which I inflicted on them. At the end, all leaders are nothing but people... :o)
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          Nov 30 2012: Well Fast Eddy had a problem that he doesn't like to talk about but since we are amongst friends, how old were you Ed when beat the addiction to eating paste? It happens to a lot of leaders...
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    Nov 30 2012: This depends very much on how closely supervised you are and how clear any lines of report are.

    I have worked mostly in situations that in organizational terms were pretty "flat" in the sense of not involving many layers of authority. There might be one boss and everyone else, or there might be a dozen people staffing a dozen people.

    Good leaders let competent people do their work. As Linda described, bad leaders interfere with competent people's doing their work. I have also experienced people who seek to establish themselves as leaders (in the sense of calling the shots) without any formal designation of authority. Those might be considered pseudo-leaders.

    With designated leaders who do not have good judgment, a strategy that often works is flying under their radar. With pseudo-leaders who seek to define themselves into leadership roles without any merit or judgment that makes that arrangement positive, it can work to go over their heads. They may tell you what to do, but then you work out with your actual boss what you are going to do.

    The higher the quality of your work, the less help you need from people, and the more credibility you have from your credentials and track record, the more likely you are to be able to continue to work effectively despite poor or obstructive leadership and pseudo-leadership.

    I have also left a couple of jobs because of obstructive leadership or pseudo-leadership.
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    Nov 29 2012: Leadership is a pretend concept. So someone makes up who leads who.

    In my mind, I have ultimate power. So if I decide to work with you, I can decide not to just as easily. If what you are doing is congruent with my work, we can work together to get a job done. If the job states that you evaluate my work, that's fine. But if your job interferes at all with my work, I will go elsewhere.

    There is a difference between job and work. My work is greater than my job but my job is not going to stop me from my work. So if you are my 'leader' as defined by some corporate or institutional accountability standard, that's nice. I really don't care. Just as long as you do not interfere with my work. Because if you do, you are no longer a 'leader' but an obstacle which I will try to go over, around, under or just blow up and get out of my way.

    So in a nutshell, bad leadership is an obstacle and will be dealt with as such. If it is part of an institutional culture, I need to find a different culture.

    There is a different scenario where leadership needs to be mentored but you asked about bad leadership, not inexperienced leadership.
  • Dec 15 2012: this is the foremost question that is asked by the citizens of the most of the countries, and most of them include the democratic countries. this is because democracy which we are following, has the main motive of dividing and rule. the government, in order to save itself , uses every methods(even massive corruption) and bribing the officials to stay in power. they dont bother about people. the real democratic system(adopted by the greeks) involved a body which had individuals which represented all the society of people. there was not the concept of political parties. and the officials were elected by the mutual consent of the people of the nation. the officials were concerned about their country as whole and were not concerned about there political region (like today's democracy). also countries like china , which most of the people called as a one party and a country with dictatorial communist party, HAS ONE OF THE BEST GOVERNANCE SYSTEM CURRENT present in the world. so we have to change our minds from western democracy, which causes polarisation in the society and in genral stagnation of the countries progress, to the greek democracy(which existed earlier in greece), which consist of the people which are capable of the post and are truly committed for their country only. and also think about the one of major capitalist countries. do they follow their constitution completely, no as for money, they can do anything . as the recent history shows
  • Dec 11 2012: Ask questions. Look for mutual purpose. Listen to understand. Step up to participative leadership!
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    Dec 10 2012: It's easy to criticize leaders. Often, however, leaders are forced by circumstances to make less than optimal or unpopular decisions. It helps tremendously to understand the constrains and pressures the leaders face. It helps in two ways: 1) we stop perceiving the leadership as bad and inadequate, and 2) it helps us to understand more clearly how we can help the situation.

    In my current job as a quality and reliability manager in a semiconductor company, I used to be frustrated over cutting corners in product development and lack of solid design practices to guarantee the quality of the product which seemed like a leadership issue. However, the product development is often driven by shifting market and customer requirements. The features often have to be redesigned on the fly, with very tight delivery schedules. The final product often resembles the Winchester Mystery House, with new rooms being added continuously without a master plan. There is a balancing act between delivering a product of "good enough" quality which suits customer needs and meets the customer schedule and delivering a product of excellent quality (from designer's perspective), made by manufacturer's specs, on manufacturer's schedule which could mean missing the business opportunity altogether. For several years, I have been providing feedback to the design and management teams about quality, reliability, and yield issues with our products. This information gradually changes attitudes and practices. Many issues are taken a lot more seriously than before. The credit for fixes is all with the management and design teams, but I can see my little tiny role in this process.

    My "solution" to the problem - avoid criticizing other people and focus on what I can do to improve the situation. It's a part of my philosophy of accepting things as they are rather than getting anxious over the discrepancy between reality and my vision of it.
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    p s

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    Dec 8 2012: No leaders required. You write the script of your life.
  • Dec 2 2012: Hi- I think reiterating 2 key ideas from previous posts are key. Remaining flexible to the ideas or tasks you are asked to work on and respectfully communicating your concerns or questions. These are are key in keeping management channels open- if your questions ar focused on the quality of the tasks at hand, good managers usually divulge more information or rationale for the decision. If management is sound then a team feedback loop is a valuable part of the process.
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    Dec 1 2012: Good question Jimmy!
    For most of my working life I was self employed, and I have also had many different roles where I was/am in different positions as the leader...or not.

    In a couple situations when working for the state (managing elderly subsidized housing, and case reveiwer for Social and Rehabilitative Services), I had the opportunity to face poor leadership. Depending on the person I was dealing with, s/he accepted feedback and we negociated (management of elderly housing), or, s/he did not listen or care about feedback, and simply got annoyed with me (SRS)!

    I have held positions on governing and permitting boards, and again, in my perception, it totally depends on the person we are dealing with, whether or not s/he responds to feedback. Generally, I have found that if we address the issue with respect, most people will probably consider the information. The good thing for me, was that the volunteer postions did not impact my financial situation, so I was more free to say exactly what I thought and felt without fear of being terminated. Speaking clearly and honestly about my perspective, often led to me chairing the board...that can be a plus or minus....depending on how one looks at it!

    In one situation, on the local development review board, when the chair OBVIOUSLY had conflict of interest ALL the time, addressing it simply made her really angry. Her conflict was a HUGE financial gain for her, so she always tried to protect that interest. I solved that one by providing enough evidence to the governing board, which caused her to be removed from the position.....and that was one of my goals with my appointment to that board.

    My sense is, that how we deal with poor leadership varies from person to person and situation to situation?
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    Dec 1 2012: On a side note, I'm currently at a political leadership course with 100 of "tomorrows leaders"... It's really fun!
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      Dec 8 2012: Jimmy, It might be helpful for the students to understand "The Peter Principle" by J Lawrence Peter. The bottom line is that often people are promoted from a position of competence into a position of incompetence. The answer is provided in a follow up book, "The Peter Perscription."

      I have never heard of a political leadership course. Are these members of a class, club, or just a interest group.

      I would be interested in some details ... perhaps a course of that nature would be applicable here also.

      Thanks. Bob.
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    Nov 30 2012: There is also case of inadequate leaders that are not toxic.

    I would refer to the case of Leader Vs Manager as referred to by John Kotter of Harvard Business School. Where a good manager could be put in a leadership position but mainly continue to use his management skills rather than leadership skills. Such person can learn and be mentor.

    John Kotter speech and text:
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    Nov 30 2012: This is a difficult one. It is important to be loyal to our leader; but it is only wise to follow paths worth following. So that one would not be like the fellow doomed by the leadership of the blind.
    As Fritzie has wisely suggested, one should be try to reason with the leader. A good leader is not neccessarily a 'know it all'. He or she is a kind that will seek wise counsel and would listen to it.

    There are times when it requires a bold stand against incompetence. I have visited some countries in Africa where leaders have not given a good account of themselves. In such places I have often advised younger people to prepare for change and to do the best with the little they've got; because when there is a will there is a way.
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      Nov 30 2012: We should just be loyal to positive leaders. Negative / toxic leadership loyalty would only encourage and reinforce their behaviors.
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      Nov 30 2012: I can't ever remember being loyal to a leader. But then again, I do not see leadership as a horizontal phenomena.
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        Dec 1 2012: Loyalty is a tough one, to who, when, why, how far? Perhaps a separate question?
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          Dec 8 2012: Jimmy, If you as a owner/manager hire me to perform a specific job for a defined amount of pay. It is my opinion that I signed a contract to perform those duties and not to be loyal to any specific person.

          To me it is a matter of integrity. I gave my word to you. You kept your word in paying me and I will keep my word in providing the service I promised. If the leader is a problem that is your issue as a owner/manager. As a owner/manager I am sure that you will isolate the problem and make ammends. To work against the "bad" leader does not ever serve anyone well. Personally I will continue to do the job I was hired to do. That will serve me well.

          However at the end of the contract I may elect to move on. But in departing we have been honest and maintained a professional relationship. That will also reflect well. The added benefit is that my honesty and integrity is in tact.
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      Dec 1 2012: Loyalty got to be earned before it will be granted. And it stays fragile in its very nature. It does not come within a 'benefit package' of a leadership tag.

      People tend to forget this!
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    Nov 30 2012: '... decisions are really poor and reasoning with these people is out of the question ...'

    If this is the case I quit as soon as possible.

    At times 'decisions' seem 'poor' if you don't know about all the details they have been made on, so this usually is my first task to get to know the whole picture if I am in doubt of the purpose of what I am asked to do. A good leadership has no problem with this and usually gives those details for a better understanding on their own. If you get resistance or delaying tactics instead and as repetitive results and no one is willing to fill in your missing information, this does not happen by chance and is therefore part of the leadership style.

    I you are willing to cope with this and to be nothing more but a mindless 'recipient of orders' you may stay under this leadership and arrange with it.

    If you wish to participate and to be part of something you can identify with, you then change the environment.

    Because if you stay, you know it won't get better, but if you change there is a chance that it does.

    Get your 'feelers' out on any job interview to sense the 'chemistry' and the 'spirit' of a company. This may vary from department to pepartment, yet there is an overall 'pheromone' to any company which should be compatible to your liking if you are able to 'smell' it.

    In any case, good luck! :o)
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      Dec 1 2012: I've been thinking about leaving my work for quite some time now, but.

      In Sweden we have worker rights that far exceed most other nations, one of those rights is (translating from the head) "the law for a secure employment" It basically says that once you have a certain type of contract (which I've got) they CAN'T fire you if you behave. Bad behavior is basically stealing, being discriminating and not showing up at work, there are other stuff but they can't fire you because you're having a bad day (or week), been I'll a lot or for any other inhumane reason.
      We also have freedom of speech here in Sweden, so I can say anything I like at work (as long as it isn't racist or discriminating). So I can freely go there uttering my thoughts, building an opinion among my 500 colleagues.

      You see, most of them (my colleagues) don't have a secure employment and most of them are afraid to stand up against my employer, or even to purpose suggestions of how to improve the environment and/or productivity. I'm elected at my work (workers union) to represent them, and it is therefore and only therefore that I stay at my current job. So that the people that come after me don't have to go through the same thing again. I'd like to improve it to a decent level before I leave...
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        Lejan .

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        Dec 1 2012: If Sweden has this advanced worker rights, how can it be, that most of your 500 colleagues don't have them? Are those people worker or interns or are there loopholes in the system?

        In my experience almost all employees are afraid to stand up against their employer and they only do if the leadership of the workers union is a good one. The power of the collective is the key, as the action of all is protection for each individual.

        Your motives as a workers union representative are without doubt noble-minded, as that is what the mission is about, but why would you then leave the company once your work improved the working conditions to a decent level? They would then be better for you too, won't they?

        It is not on me to judge, but I would rather have workers union representatives fighting for rights in the context of 'staying' in the company than planning to 'leave' sooner or later anyway. How do you define the level of 'improvements' for your colleagues and how decent has the level to be for you to quit? Percentage in pay rise, participation in profits, extensions of vacation days?

        I have never seen any workers union to be able to change 'bad leadership' within a company, as this is beyond their influence. This is something they can not claim on a legal basis, therefore they can not even officially strike to change for a better. What will you do, fire the whole management and the company owner? This is a 'tilt at windmills'.

        The freedom of your speech allows you to talk to all supervisors about their 'leading practice' only if they are willing to listen. I don't know if you already tried this and what the outcome was if you did, but this is very thin ice to walk on, if your dialogue partner closes up or is not willing or unable to change.

        As a rule of thumb, idiots never die out and if you can't change them, leave them.

        Riding into sunset after killing all the 'bad guys' may be heroic, but be careful not to ride a 'dead horse' against 'windmills' and YOUR time.
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          Dec 1 2012: There are loop holes and you don't get the contract they I have until you've been at the same place for 6 months, but there are loopholes for that too... I have about 150 colleagues that have my kind of contract but they're really hard to get to... Soon we'll be a lot more though and then perhaps change will come.

          I agree fully.

          Thank you, I will leave because I don't enjoy my work, it isn't meaningful for me as I work in a warehouse, selling stuff people don't really need. I wish to have a (for me) truly meaningful job where I have the power to change things for the better on a grand scale, not contribute to unnecessary consumerism. Even if things get better, it's still the same tasks.

          Well, I'm training a lot of other people to be union representatives so that we grow stronger together. And in a not too distant future they will be experienced enough to manage the situation well enough, it's not supposed to be a one man job, It's shouldn't stand or fall with one individual.

          Well, the improvements that are most important are the working conditions and environment, as it is now many people are feeling really bad about going to work, everyone's stressed to the max.

          I cannot fire the company, the laws don't allow it, nor would I like too since the top management is quite ok, they just lack the insight about what's going on. And I can't strike until our contract has expired (march 30 2013) and that's not my decision. When we strike here in Sweden (we very rarely do, there's no need since our demands are mostly acceptable and met by the opposing side) most of the country goes on strike, the whole nation stops moving and no one is allowed to work (we about 70% in the workers in a union in Sweden, so we just have to threaten with a strike).
          Sadly, changing bad leadership is beyond our rights here in Sweden as well, we have no say in that.
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          Dec 1 2012: Well, it's not really thin ice, there's nothing they can do to make my work worse for me, and there are never any grounds to firing me. We have a dialog, and the answer is mostly "good point" but the improvements I'm suggesting seem so much time that it isn't happening at all (it isn't).

          I know that the intellectually challenged will survive.

          And there's also the economical incentive for me to stay, I can't afford to quit if I don't find another job first and before I do the I'm going to make damn sure it's a good one.

          Yeah, I'm not gonna waste my life there, no problem.
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        Dec 1 2012: If my understanding of what you are saying is right, then this 6 months would be what we call a 'trial period' in Germany. If this was the case, then your company has just recently boomed and is ramping up their workforce accordingly.

        A 'trial period' is not a bad thing to have and it does not only serves the employer, it serves the employees as well.

        Those of your colleagues who just started will notice, that they are 'stressed to the max' and they will come to their own conclusions what to do with it. Either they agree on those conditions, or they start to look for a better job instead.

        I am not aware of the given economic situation in Sweden, but if the job market is not in ruins, then alternatives arise for your colleagues as well.

        As I am in a similar situation regarding 'fulfillment', I understand your wish for a 'truly meaningful job' quite well, yet personally I am careful on the 'grand scale' side of 'changing things'. On this to me it is not 'the scale' that matters, it is the 'quality' which does. Comes with the same difficulty, though.

        If my assumption is right, that your company just recently grew, and as you are saying that 'the top management is quite ok', there is a chance that 'they' are just to busy with other things at the moment than to listen to the needs of their people. This is no excuse, but could be a reason.

        Yet as you wrote to Fritzie Reisner earlier, you seem to have tried to make you heard on this, in vain. But being told, that you are 'too honest for (your) own good' is nothing but a plain warning!

        Move on, find a better way, and never trade your honesty. Good Luck!
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          Dec 1 2012: Lejan, I appreciate your thoughtful comment about 'grand scale." There can be highly meaningful contributions of all sizes, and a career or life might include a balance of contributions at different scale at different times.

          Further, one can develop competency and credibility by not aiming to start by running the show.
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    Nov 30 2012: The old adage, If you can measure it, you can manage it.

    But for someone like Fritzie coming up with a metric is very hard to do and even harder for you.

    The ultimate metric is value. In your case it is more perceived value that shows up on polls. But hard or not a metric has to be assigned. No metric means you are going to have a popularity contest. I think most politicians survey their constituents and produce things that their constituents want.

    Without a true north decisions will be subjective and subjectivity and organizations do not mix, humans being humans...

    I would spend some time getting a policy set in concrete that you cannot come into the office without a solution for the problem that you want to dump on me. Going along with this thinking is Lean manufacturing in which the goal is to eliminate waste and that is done from the bottom up. If you want to be overworked the best way to do it is to bypass your juniors and do their work for them, if you want to live past 50 make them do their job. BTW Lean has been very effective in being implemented in government even with unions. If you want I will link some sucess stories in government.

    You cannot supervise more than 8 people directly, otherwise you are going to be spread to thin and productivity will go down.

    I think the biggest problem with this stuff is a lack of training. So any plan to fix a situation has to have training as a big part of what they doing. Not the least of which is what is the purview of yours and their position. E.G. every organization has to have this, in a family what happens if the husband makes social commitments? What happens if the wife deals with the car mechanic? or the husband does the laundry? or the wife deals with the contractor? An organization has to set up who's hat or function is who's.

    But my perspective is how to get more done with less in government it is how to get less done with more. So maybe you should ignore what I say?
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      Nov 30 2012: " If you can measure it, you can manage it. "
      That's why I hire managers. Good managers do not necessarily make good leaders. In fact, I cannot think of a single instance where a good manager became a good leader. The very fact of their ability to focus on minutia makes it difficult for them to be visionary.

      You consistently talk about managers in your post and not leaders. You keep talking about metrics and tasks and who does what when. That is management not leadership. The question was about bad leadership. Bad management is easier to deal with.

      But maybe that is Mr. Strobl's problem when he does not understand leadership decisions. Perhaps the leadership is not articulating the vision adequately. If they don' have one, time to dust off the resignation letter.
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        Nov 30 2012: I don't think we have the same definition of a manager. As to a leader I think of someone like Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, Ronald Reagan, etc. How many of these type guys do you need? They are indispensable but on the other hand I think of a manager as having vision regarding his position which may very well be a very large goal, and certainly not minutia. In fact I would say that is best to have the visionary state his goal and then go away so people who are good at making it happen can do just that. By definition an manager makes planning a reality, which absolutely requires vision. I will have to agree to disagree.
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          Nov 30 2012: Yes we do have a different definition and thanks for pointing it out. I understand what you call vision as 'making.' The action part of the process. But because it is process, it is not vision.

          For me vision is about the future. And you are right. Those men had vision. They knew where they were taking their company or country. They could see 10 and 20 years ahead and how work being done now would contribute to that vision. Everything from who you hire to where you build your office is visionary. But having manufacturing up their productivity 20% is not vision in my book. That is management. Easy way to tell is if you have a process issue, it is management. Most problems are process oriented. You can fix the problem with a consultant.

          Leadership is about vision and developing people and product. Not process. I would refer you to any leadership book on the shelves. My personal favorite is Tribal Leadership. Research based and very good.
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          Dec 1 2012: I'l put it here:

          Pat: I won't ignore what you say, if i ignored people's opinions that differed from mine, then why would I even ask for them? I've read your words and am taking them into consideration. However, you have not convinced me and my viewpoint on the matter is explained very well by Linda.

          Linda & Chetan: I agree!
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        Nov 30 2012: Managers certainly manage people as well as systems. You speak of managers in the pejorative I disagree with that attitude as well. Needing a consultant indicates a lack of training.
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          Nov 30 2012: I don't mean to be perjorative so my appologies if I come across that way. It is simply not my strength which is why I hire in the talent. Managers manage people just like you said but leaders develop people. Again it is a vision thing. Managers worry about how an employee does their job. Leaders work with employees to make sure they have the resources and training to not only do their job, but prepare them for the next job. Again I would refer you to books on the subject. Just make sure the book is evidence based and not some whacko with a theory.

          I can't get into it more without going into graduate level leadership theory so please hit up some resources. There are many frameworks out there but they are pretty consistent with the definitions.

          Another resource is the Center for Creative Leadership.

          They are pretty well known.
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          Nov 30 2012: Hey Linda,
          I do agree with your definition regarding 'Leader' and 'Manager'.The Best part was this 'Managers manage people but leaders develop people.Managers worry about how an employee does their job. Leaders work with employees to make sure they have the resources and training to not only do their job, but prepare them for the next job.'
          All I can get through this is Managing is an easier task than Leading and Managing is an inherent task of Leading.why i feel so is,in order to prepare them for the next job,a leader needs to mold their fellow employees with the use of all the possible resources which there by needs to manage himself effectively in fulfilling the task.
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          Nov 30 2012: Hey Linda,
          I do agree with your definition regarding 'Leader' and 'Manager'.The Best part was this 'Managers manage people but leaders develop people.Managers worry about how an employee does their job. Leaders work with employees to make sure they have the resources and training to not only do their job, but prepare them for the next job.'
          All I can get through this is Managing is an easier task than Leading and Managing is an inherent task of Leading.why i feel so is,in order to prepare them for the next job,a leader needs to mold their fellow employees with the use of all the possible resources which there by needs to manage himself effectively in fulfilling the task.
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          Nov 30 2012: @ Chetan
          I agree that management is easier than leadership. I also agree that management is an inherent task of leadership. It is important to know your management style and how to leverage different styles to effect the results you desire. Another mark of a good leader.

          Leadership is about the future and management is about the task. That is the easiest way to remember it.
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        Nov 30 2012: Well Linda I think your text books make too much of the vision thing, to me it just about giving orders geared toward a plan and making sure they are done.

        The trouble starts when you try to make more of it and throw in a dash of ego and emotion and being right etc but that is what not to do or what you have to unlearn?

        As with many things in life it all boils down to control. Control and prediction are the same thing. So how do you predict human behavior? It is by a very esoteric subject called communication the biggest part of which is even more esoteric it is called listening and asking the right questions to where the person does what needs to be done. What most people complain about is not really control but the lack of, the boss who constantly yelling is only good at stopping something which isn't really control, the mom who tells her kid to clean his room but before he finishes she tells the kid to mow the lawn but before he finished she tells him to wash the windows isn't really control, or the government throwing out the plan because it didn't work and replacing with the next plan that will not work instead of tweaking what they have until it does work.

        Of course you have to have targets and the occasional boot in the ass but mostly it is about engendering agreement through control.
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          Nov 30 2012: OK that is interesting because you see, control is an illusion. But if it works for you please go ahead. I think that is probably your biggest problem with the issues you describe in your original post.

          Your type of leadership is one I would use the explosives on. Just saying. It would come down to "get out of my way you control freak." Been there, done that more than once.

          Underneath the baloney I do see a hint of evidence based decision making. But you are so full of your own power trip I don't see how you enact it except by dictating,
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          Dec 1 2012: Linda puts is very harshly but she is describing my thoughts precisely.

          Your lack of consideration for people's "...ego and emotion and being right etc" is probably making life a living hell for your subordinates (if you have any), it's also affecting the productivity as they will just stand around talking shit about you when you turn your back.

          If you push people without motivating them to do the task at hand, they will do a much poorer job then they would if they actually wanted to do the task, that is why good leadership is needed on top of good management.
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        Dec 1 2012: Jimmy

        Like I said before I have to do more with less in government it is the opposite and I get that that is the case with Linda as well.

        Actually if I do say so myself I am a nice guy. Your comment about ego, being right and emotion are not about me they are about what not to do regarding leadership, something that is all too common with politics. I don't think you understand my comments?

        But in a regular business you do have to be very productive as the market place is highly competitive and the consumers are highly demanding.

        I don't think you will find many regular business people having much or any disagreement with what I'm saying. I have been in business for decades I'm reasonably intelligent and am 180 deg to Linda. Something here does not add up especially when she starts with ad hominem. In your case I get it you do not answer to the market place your goals are completely different. You have to answer to voters and I don't know anything about that.
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          Dec 1 2012: I'm sorry Pat, ad hominem? I even went back and tried to find where I attacked your character. I do not know what I posted to elicit this observation so please clarify. I actually do think you are one of the great guys on this forum so I do apologize again. I just cannot work with a 'command and control' leadership or management style. It is a style I only pull out in an emergency or when strategic coping is no longer effective. It has some serious ramifications among staff and workflow and is very old school. I am somewhat blunt and honest or as Jimmy said, harsh. I am sorry if anything I posted was perceived as an attack.
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        Dec 1 2012: My point is your perspective and mine do not reconcile at all.

        In my world your ideas do not work.

        The ad hominem I was referring to is this "Underneath the baloney I do see a hint of evidence based decision making. But you are so full of your own power trip I don't see how you enact it except by dictating,"

        That statement does not reconcile what you are saying with what I'm saying.

        Apparently neither you or Jimmy operate in the free market? You talk as though metrics are a nuisance that does not make sense to me.

        You have functions that have to get done and those functions either get done or you are out of business. This to me is leadership and applies from the smallest to largest organization.
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        Dec 2 2012: Linda

        I read most of what your link under "You too"

        What I see is that Jeff and Kirk are talking about getting agreement and setting priorities and developing leaders within a non profit which in my experience is not as exposed to the market place.

        My thinking on this is the first question any organization has to have is a purpose and goals. Next they have have plans to reach those goals. In the market place that is easy to determine as the goal is to serve the customer with what he wants. In a non profit that can be ambiguous.

        The step that I think is missing is that functions have to be assigned to individuals and a sequence of those functions have to occur. This is where I think the authors come off the rails. Those functions have to have metrics, metrics cut to the chase.

        Regarding developing leaders, not everybody can become or wants to be a leader there are benchmarks that have to be mastered before one becomes a leader.