#273 from Innovative
Leader Volume 6, Number 4
Need to Always Please!
managing teams—of all sizes—for many decades.
What has most exasperated me is people whose main goal is
to please me, their boss. I
end up not trusting these do-gooders, even though they desperately
want to be trusted.
What got me to
write this Forum was a recent situation where one of my staff
thought that a deadline I set for someone else also pertained to
him. The deadline,
that he imagined, was totally impossible to reach.
But, meanwhile, he cut corners and tried everything to
reach it. In doing
so, he totally messed up the project. Why didn’t he come to me for help or for clarification?
“I assumed that you knew what you’re doing when you set
the deadline,” he said. Grrr!!!
example was a staff member who came up to me after a team meeting
and told me that her colleague disagreed with my view of a
difficult business situation.
I confronted that colleague and asked why she didn’t
voice her opinion in front of the group so that everyone would
have a chance to assess the situation. She said, “I shouldn’t be allowed to confront your
views.” Once again,
Of course, many
people who’ve started out in my group try hard to find out what
I want, and do what they can to reach those goals.
But I’m a pretty informal person, and they soon learn
that will take any advice to reach these goals as soon as, and as
cost-effective as, possible.
Within a little while, most of my staff feels free to offer
their own ideas which, not to rarely, go against mine.
And it is those ideas that frequently make the biggest
advances to our projects.
But, then again
are the do-gooders. Something
in their backgrounds must have given them a real fear of failure,
embarrassment or just concern about correcting someone with a
title more advanced than theirs.
I find that if,
within three months of working in my group, they still fear my
imagined wrath for stating that my ideas may not always be the
best ones, then it is hopeless to change them.
I’ve tried. I’ve
told them that nothing bad will happen even if they criticize me
and offer an idea that is really stupid. My
actions certainly back this up.
Many, in the teams, offer criticisms and suggestions
directly to me, in public and in private.
I want their ideas! I
want as many ideas as possible, and I want them all the time.
Still, the do-gooders keep their mouths shut and nod in
agreement with anything I say.
This happens even after I’ve had heart-to-heart talks
explaining why they need to express their honest opinions on a
In one case, I
got to find out what was behind one of my people’s “don’t
disagree” phenomenon. This
person, with a Ph.D., was warned by his thesis advisor not to
oppose a theory the advisor was proposing, even though the
student’s data didn’t support it.
The then-student desperately wanted to get his degree but
had to bury his head in the sand in order to get it.
Most people, I believe, would have found another advisor.
Anyway, this situation obviously had a great effect on him,
since he received that degree more than a decade before he joined
I certainly have
no credentials as an expert psychoanalyst; however, we probably
should prod these do-gooder types to seek outside help for the
purpose of increasing their value to the team.