Authenticity…Or…No More Mr. Nice Guy?

How often have you been spoken to by a supervisor or manager or politician or preacher…in a carefully scripted, word soup, of platitudes and rhetoric that was meant to leave you feeling good about the encounter…and understanding nothing?

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It is possible to be a kind and benevolent manager or leader and still be a candid communicator.

I had a chancellor, with whom I had met with on several occasions and for whom I was fond, speak to me in administrative double-speak and platitudes and I realized that he was lying to me…and he thought that I did not know it.

Suddenly, I responded to the chancellor and his assistant, that I was going to leave the meeting if they did not cease insulting my intelligence.  They both began to profusely proclaim that they thought me to be very intelligent!

There is an old saying, ‘do not pee on me and tell me that it is raining!’

Many times I have been spoken to, by my leaders, in illogical concepts and unrealistic expectations and lies, regarding simple policy issues…when the truth would have been so much easier.

I realized, very early in my supervisory/management tenure, that the staff that I had been asked to lead…were smarter than I and certainly could sniff out the malodor of a lie to them!

I had a supervisor, that I had to admonish to decide what statement on policy that he wanted me to communicate, from him, as he had told me two or more contradicting proclamations regarding the same issue.

I am convinced that one of the reasons that Donald Trump won the presidency was  the perception that he was speaking plainly to the American people.

This is something, so rare, in political speak, that many voters, voted for the president…in a desperate cry for change, from the soothing words of the political elite, of both parties, that consistently resulted in nothing more than a balm that was never applied to the wound.

In the, electorates’ thirst for a different political rhetoric…many voted for change…but it was change that hurt them economically.

Voters,  looked the other way on the issues of morality and misogyny and xenophobia believing the candidate understood them and was going to address their needs.  This being a billionaire that, often, failed to pay the sub-contractors, and others, that worked for him…middle class people.

Now, the reality of Trumps promises of help for the middle class and the juxtaposition of his policies…such as the tax plan and tariffs and, even, the erosion of Obama Care…have all hurt the very voters that selected him for their champion.

But, the hunger was so great for a politician that spoke differently than the crowd of candidates…Trump was elected.

In the workplace I have witnessed supervisors and managers and administrators who wanted to be Mr. Nice Guy to everyone and appeared to be running for a popularity contest.

It is impossible to ‘please all of the people…all of the time’.

It is imperative that a leader must be a good communicator.  The members of your staff must know what you expect and your plan for implementing and delivering those expectations.

I have often witnessed leaders who made management decisions by peer review.  In other words…a manager that disciplined a team member according to what their peers had criticized.

I experienced, during my twenty-five years of management that it was a person’s co-workers, much more often that their supervisors, that sought disciplinary actions for what they decided were infractions…but they never reported on their own breaking of the rules of the organization.

However, management that is done properly will result in private constructive criticism and disciplinary actions and, finally, terminations when all else fails.

A leader must be able to ensure that they understand the facts of poor job performance properly and that the evidence is clear.

For effective leadership, it is paramount that a leader addresses poor job performance in an authentic and forthright manner.

I found that, when I had a supervisor, who was a poor leader, that the morale of their entire crew was diminished.

It was my experience that, many times, a private meeting with a person who needed counseling, was all that was required and the problem was rectified.  Most of your colleagues want to produce an excellent work product if they are spoken to honestly and the expectations of the manager are clear and concise.

Always constructively criticize in private and praise in public.

However…nothing is more demoralizing than two people…and one is working faithfully…while the other is faithfully not working.  This problem is compounded, by the number of staff who report to a manager or supervisor…who leads by favoritism or emotional whims.

My old friend and mentor, Jerry R., told me, close, to the conclusion of my career at SIU, that I had always been fair.

I believe that whether you have a person who reports to you or hundreds…they are looking for one attribute of your character…above all others….fairness.

My management philosophy was that if I ere in disciplinary actions…that I wanted to err on the side of mercy….

However, negative, corrective, and disciplinary actions are a vital component of positive management.



2 responses

  1. In my experience, most people are promoted beyond their intellectual ability, true leaders are very rare and everyone would find life a lot easier if they didn’t stray beyond the person they are.

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