There is a big disconnect in the world today between what managers and leaders are taught what the real world demands of them. Over the past decade there has been this “softening of the tone” of managers to not offend, be abrasive or instructive, cause offence or be demanding. The sweeping pendulum has flung so far left that what was once comical can land you in court.
Disclaimer: I am not speaking about the deeply misogynist nature of corporate boardrooms or extent to which they remain exclusionary to designate groups. I am talking about how we are so concerned with causing offence that we are not given space to be ourselves anymore.
I am business theorist and practitioner. So I have (and continue to) study business, management, leadership and innovation with a ferocious appetite to test my own hypotheses. Ever since grad-school I have been frustrated by the HR lecturers, professors and even keynote speakers (often HR managers themselves) perspective on how to manage people for results maximisation. There is this pervasive idea that you “must be nice”. You must be reasonable. You must be “human”.
Theoretically all these sound good. In-fact they are utopia-like. But (and I am aware never to start a sentence with a conjunction) utopia is defined as “an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect” because it is imagined (ergo not real) and perfect (ergo not achievable).
Dear entrepreneur, you are not Jesus. You don’t bare the responsibility of turning the other cheek all the time.
The business school case studies and management theorists would tell you that you must:
- give your people space, territory and jurisdiction;
- give your people reasonable goals to achieve;
- be kind, courteous and understanding (all the time);
…and my absolute favourite, LEAD they say, don’t MANAGE. What does that even mean? Listen, I need somebody to answer the phone, or clean the floor, or file the invoices or take the board minutes. Can you do that? My sense is that so many of entrepreneurs are being forced to be nice, that they spend all their creative energies on being nice not being effective.
I don’t think Jose Mourinho is reasonable or kind when his team is two-goals down in a championship final.
I doubt that Zucks (Zuckerberg) speaks in full sentences and without expletives when his team is 90% burn of schedule but only 50% complete on project.
I cant imagine Stephen Koseff using sunday church service language in the early days of building his business. In-fact I am reliably told not much has changed.
Dear entrepreneur, its your company. You have the right to speak your mind, especially when you disagree. You have the right to be emotional, especially when its your money. And you have the right to call people out in the strongest terms. Their feelings might hurt, but losses hurt more.
Consider this: we are taught and told by authors & historians that Steve Jobs was an autocratic manager who didn’t take in people’s opinion or care for their feelings. As an Apple user, do you care? I doubt it. You care only that their products are the best, work and engaging.