Tuesday, May 01, 2020

Some plain truth about control freaks

A posting by Dick Richards, entitled “Arguing with Reality,“ set me thinking.

So many macho managers spend their time either trying to control what is uncontrollable, or trying to force events back onto the track they wanted them to take, when it’s already too late. Much of the stress they suffer themselves—and cause in others—comes from doing this. Yet it’s not just tolerated. Such behavior is often seen as a mark of valuable determination and commitment.

Arguing with reality is illogical, pointless, and a total waste of energy and resources. That is the plain truth. Trying to control the uncontrollable is foolish, at best, and sometimes close to insanity. Control freaks are neither effective managers nor any kind of organizational asset. Mostly their irrational behavior is the cause of a great deal of upset, waste, and unhappiness.

It’s high time that people looked at conventional management attitudes and saw many of them for what they are: pointless, wasteful, and useless. Control freaks are sick. Arguing with reality is insane. Trying to control the future is impossible.

Let’s slow down, take a good, hard look at what people are doing in the name of management, and try to do better. Macho posturing is no course for any leader to take, whatever others do.

And don't miss reading Dick Richard's article.

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Steve Roesler said...


What really hits home is:

"Yet it’s not just tolerated. Such behavior is often seen as a mark of valuable determination and commitment."

I can't tell you the number of times over the years that I've sat down with clients and asked why, in the face of both evidence and the uncontrollable nature of life, they insisted on putting up one more slide that showed an upward straight line as an indicator of where they were going.

It is as if anything less than the projection of near-total success is a sign of weakness or defeat. Yet looking back over years of performance, it is obvious that we are on the "Great Sine Wave of Life."

I would love to think that some of the satisfying "successes" I've had in life were due to good planning, full-steam-ahead attitude, and a flash of brilliance. Not so. When reflected upon truthfully they've been due to "being there" at the right time with the right people in a manner that in NO way was actually orchestrated by me.

There is a great peacefulness that comes from recognizing that one is not in control (even if one is in charge!). And that is the ability to enjoy the ride, even when it's bumpy. When you hit the smooth tarmac again it feels that much better!

4:50 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Steve.

We all like to believe our successes are due to our own brilliance and effort. Not so. But next we want to believe that our mistakes and failures are all due to something — anything — other than our own stupidity and weakness. Also not so.

On a personal level, this is sad. But on an organizational level, it gets twisted into a doctrine that people can be required to make things happen exactly as others demand; and that they deserve blame and punishment if they fail to do so.

Can anything be less productive of a calm, beneficial, and satisfying working environment? Worse, can there be an attitude that is more likely to produce confusion by obscuring the real reasons why success comes about, in favor of silly myths about heroic personal endeavor?

Does individual effort count? Surely it does, but not for nearly as much as we like to believe. Should people be held accountable for making things happen, regardless of the context and the effects of chance? Of course not. That is insanity on a corporate level.

Until we can see clearly what is down to personal endeavor and what simply has to be accepted, like the vagaries of the weather, we cannot have a process of leadership that is rational or civilized.

Keep reading, my friend.

8:13 AM  

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