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July 17, 2007

Leader Leanings

One leader may wait until 4:45 p.m. to spring an assignment on her workers that's due by noon the next day; another is happy to give employees the benefit of time, so long as he can micromanage it. Whatever the predilection, leaders have personal do's and don'ts their subordinates would be hard-pressed to argue with, even when they defy logic.

Penny pinching is a common one. A former co-worker of mine was fond of saying of our old boss, "Penny wise, pound foolish." As a specialized trade industry publication, she refused to spend the few hundred dollars necessary to purchase the major directory particular to our area of coverage. Employee morale meant nothing in the quest for economic travel. Why leave the night before for a mid-morning meeting that's just a two-hour plane ride away?  Silly, imprudent worker, don't you know you can catch a 6 a.m. flight?  The airport an hour and a half from your home?  No problem!

Like the short-sighted perspective that makes saving $300 appear more important than having a needed reference guide on hand, the crack-of-dawn shuffle seems only sensible--until the worker leaves six months later from exhaustion.

Production schedules are similar. The gains to be won from the boss getting her boss the new marketing plan a week ahead of time are significant, but the toll it takes on her aggravated workforce, and the potential work quality lost in the rush, render the effort counterproductive.

How about the manager who likes setting painful deadlines unnecessarily?  He knows he doesn't need the research for a month, but asks for it in a week and a half. He feels savvy planning ahead for his employees' "lackadaisical" tendencies, but doesn't consider they consistently turn assignments in late because the deadlines are so unrealistic it's hard to take them seriously.

Cheap, over-zealous, insensitive, and incapable of thoughts that extend past the tips of their nose. Those are a few I've noticed. How about you?  What are some leader leanings liable to leave an organization losing?


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