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Taboo: a strong social no-no re: areas of human behaviours and social norms that are sacred and forbidden based on moral judgments and often based in irrational, unexamined, fear-based beliefs.
Most managers actually believe they're just like everyone else.
Truth is, we're not.
We have more power and influence than the average puppy. Our psyche - particularly our blind spots powered by our swamp-dwelling lizard brains -- exert a huge influence on our actions.
Assumption: Smarts, focus and hard work are key to becoming an effective manager.
Reality: Managerial emotional intelligence accounts for about 67% of managerial effectiveness.
Managing humans is an exceedingly messy and difficult game. We swamp-dwelling humans are constantly throwing a wrench in the best-laid plans of mice and men.
75% of strategic plans do not get implemented. Why? Because humans are irrational, whereas strategy is rationally derived. In the strategic planning process the human psyche and its influence on strategy is completely ignored 99.9% of the time.
Those secrets, lurking in the dank weedy confines of the managerial swamp are the taboos of management -- the things that are politically incorrect, messy, smelly, embarrassing, scary, and difficult to talk about.
Taboos have great symbolic powers. Taboos touch irrational, seductive, usually denied, difficult to articulate organizational dynamics that are supposed to define the boundaries of acceptable behaviours.
Here are 3 taboos over which managers lose themselves in the managerial swamp.
By acknowledging that the taboos exist and why they're difficult to discuss can help us survive the real and imagined dangers of the swamp.
1. We don't understand the true nature of management because we deny the human psyche.
Management education is a billion-dollar a year industry. Sadly, the theoretical models of management overlook what managers actually think and do. It's kinda of like taking a prenatal course on how to take care of your new born. The reality of poopy diapers, little sleep and sheer exhaustion have little to do with the trials and tribulations of this little human being disrupting our lives.
2. Charisma is a critical ingredient in who's chosen to become a manager.
How often have we stood in disbelief as a newly-appointed manager is introduced to the group? We are irrationally impressed and influenced by hard work vs. effective work, good looks, politically-based communications skills, and an aura of authority that promises to lead us to the promised land. Why? Because we want to identify with and be inspired by people we believe to be similar to us. Deeper down we, I think, want someone to take care of us.
P.S. Charisma is a high predictor of leader/manager failure.
3. Politics is part and parcel of managing people.
This is true of any size organization. Every manager achieves his or her goals by being skilled at getting what they want, particularly when we lack the organizational authority to do so. Sometimes this involves saying what people want to hear - this strategy buys me time. It can mean using information selectively - so that I can build my case before the nay-sayers take their shots. We do "end runs" to get a desired decision because we want to gain momentum to overcome the inertia of bureaucratic "decidophobia."
Managers who are skilled in these political behaviours are more likely -- rightly or wrongly -- to navigate the dangers of the organizational swamp.
However, going for what you want by playing this game is seen as sleazy. So managers maneuver to appear to be less political - which, of course, is a political act.
How are you managing in the swamp?
constitutional law and politics