Day 49 thru 53: My Life w Car

First off: Days without carbon based transportation: 4 out of 5. That’s smashing!


But today, I want to talk about dysfunctional organizations…again. I’ve just come off a project that had as its director one of the most dysfunctional managers I’ve ever met. At first, I thought well, he’s just blustery. Just a wise guy. But then, you start noticing how people around him are leaving, putting in for transfers, how things get mixed up and there’s always someone to blame…and it’s never him.

I found myself devolving and by the end of the project, I was angry most of the time, defensive and offensive. Even now, if someone brings him up, I’m back in the swirl of my anger, and I really don’t have to work with or see him anymore.

And so I wonder: how does someone like that keep getting hired into companies? What makes him an attractive option–surely there are others to hire out there. It’s a big world.

And then I think back to this article in Change This that I read recently. If you haven’t read it, take a look–it’s worth reading. The site is worth paying attention to on a regular basis, but this latest article really got me: “The Upside of Assholes: Is There Virtue in Bad Workplace Behavior?”

Sutton’s basic belief is that there is no place for assholes in organizations–that it ultimately costs more, wears moving parts out, makes life miserable for too many people. But several of his colleagues have argued that there are famous and very effective organizational assholes to keep in mind…for example Steve Jobs who is referenced again and again as, well, an asshole. And he’s very successful–so doesn’t that mean assholes are good to have around?

I would argue that for every Steve Jobs out there (and by my count, there is only one) there are about 5 billion manager assholes. So, no, I would say that maybe, if anything, Jobs is the exception that proves the rule but no, being an asshole is not legitimized by Steve Jobs, for god’s sake. By the end of Bob Sutton’s article, he hints at the same the conclusion though he does nod towards assholes having a tremendous impact on getting things done.

Now, I’m going to say something that would irritate a lot of business people, but I believe it anyway: I think it’s morally wrong to treat people disrespectfully, abusively, erratically, and/or manipulatively. Not that I haven’t done it, I have and so have we all–but most of us avoid it as much as possible. Most of us avoid the use of outright shame to motivate teams–if only because in the end it doesn’t work and will create a divisive environment. Most of us avoid being abusive–if only because it could lead to disasterous results and legal action.

Oh well, assholes abound. I’ve carried his very bad energy around with me for a couple of weeks. I think it’s time to lay it down. So here’s a nice picture instead of something completely different:


I have to figure out how to upload some underwater photos from my recent snorkeling trip to Baja, but I haven’t yet. soon.

5 day stats:
car: 2.5 miles
bike: 8.5 miles
flexcar/bus: 0

One response to “Day 49 thru 53: My Life w Car

  1. Pingback: Day 207 and 208: MLwC and the upside of assholes « What it’s like

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