Once the curtain has been pulled back and we understand that The Wizard is just an ordinary person, the booming voice from the disembodied, intimidating head doesn’t work well anymore. There are three management practices that don’t work well anymore (if they ever did), yet many pretend that they do. These are pretenses you need to stop today.

Stop pretending to be a bad ass.

We live in a world filled with uncertainty. Change is the new constant and predictions of an economic apocalypse emerge daily. Your employees are already fearful. Fear is a distraction, it robs people of their potential, and it inhibits individual and organizational performance. They don’t need to you adding to their fear.

Many business periodicals still like to heap praise on “tough-minded” or “hard-nosed” leaders. Just a few years ago “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap, the infamous business down-sizer (wonder how he got his nickname?) had a business best-seller titled Mean Business.  Andy Grove, of Intel fame, described his management philosophy and the Intel culture in another best-seller, Only the Paranoid Survive. I’ve worked with enough business owners and executives to know that there are still plenty of managers who view fear, and its cousins, distrust and meanness, as viable, or even desirable, management techniques. Management by fear is a hard habit to break, because fear-intimidated underlings don’t complain. Neither do they excel for your business. It was with good reasons that W. E. Demming, the quality guru, said, “Drive fear out!”

Stop pretending you know everything.

First, you don’t know everything. Second, everyone knows you don’t know everything.

Your value is not in the answers you provide, rather it’s in the questions you choose to ask.

Focus your time and attention on knowing the key members of your management team and make sure they’re well informed, well trained and well heard. Assuming you’ve hired and developed people with the right skill set and that fit well within your corporate culture, trust them to do their jobs. Your value is not in the answers you provide, rather it’s in the questions you choose to ask.

Stop pretending you can control every aspect of your company.

You can’t. You only have an illusion of control. This the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events. This illusion is more common in familiar situations, in situations where the person knows the desired outcome, and it’s strengthened by stressful and competitive situations, like business. It’s actually superstitious behavior.

Part of the issue is that you have been successful, and you have certain beliefs about that success. Superstitious behavior comes from the mistaken belief that a specific activity that is followed by positive reinforcement is actually the cause of the positive reinforcement. If something good happens after we do it, then we make a connection and seek to repeat the activity.  According to executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, four success beliefs of successful people – that we have the skills, the confidence, the motivation, and the free choice to succeed – make us superstitious.

These pretenses aren’t helping you. Stop it.

In Other Words…

“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on. ”  ― William S. Burroughs

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”  ― Socrates

“You’ll tell yourself anything you have to, to pretend that you’re still the one in control.”  ― Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart

“Fear cuts deeper than swords.”  ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

“Some day I’ll be living in a big old city,
and all your ever gunna be is mean.” ― Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift: Speak Now

“Stop. Revive. Survive”  ― Melina Marchetta, The Piper’s Son

In The Word…

“The prophets made up their own words to tell the people. They told everyone who walked according to the dictates of their own heart that no evil would come upon them.” – Jeremiah 23:16, 17

In Linked Words…

Bob Newhart – Stop It!