Does this scenario sound familiar? A manager perpetuates inefficient policies to protect his departmental “turf.” “Greg” wants assurances that all “his” numbers are credited to him. He is afraid to share credit on any project for fear of budget or position cuts. So Greg duplicates the work of other departments and won’t streamline processes. As Greg works diligently to protect his own fiefdom, he frustrates his staff and colleagues.

Ironically, if Greg made choices that benefited the greater good, his position would be more secure. Greg’s staff would be more motivated and his colleagues would recognize the value he adds to their division. But Greg doesn’t believe this. He is driven by fears of unseen number-crunchers. His paranoid conversations with the accounting department never go well. As he realizes (unconsciously) that his work lacks value, Greg may become more afraid and even create a self-fulfilling prophecy of what he most fears.

Greg may survive in the short-term but his refusal to face his real motivations will send a cognitive dissonance throughout his small department. His staff, colleagues and superiors will sense his hidden agendas, even if they cannot name them. These invisible drives, based on unconscious fears, will continue to undermine all work and Greg’s ability to inspire and lead.

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