Evolution of Leadership – Reflection

Evolution of Leadership Style by M. Anthony Sacco

When I think about evolution of leadership style and strategies for success, my mind goes back to my first supervisory position and the manager I reported to then.  At that time, I worked in a large accounting department for a multi-national manufacturing company.  This job was located in the company’s headquarters and therefore served also as an on-the-job training ground for future up-starts (like me) to learn the business management from the bottom up, in part by observing the behaviors of its layers of management including my boss, his boss and including the top executives, all of  whom were highly visible and mostly approachable,  along what we referred to as “Executive Row”.

Needless to say, there is a lesson coming here that includes a shoe dropping (or a rim shot for you musicians) so here it is.

This one supervisor, my boss, had a particularly simple management technique, designed to create productivity, that went like this:  Sitting at their desk, facing the staff area so everyone could see, and be seen by, them through the glass wall of their cubicle, they would maintain a scowl for the entire day with momentary exceptions when schmoozing up to their boss.  Apparently, they had discovered that if they always appeared mildly unhappy, not really expressing anger, but not appearing happy either, everyone worked harder and most seldom approached them.  Also, but unintentionally I think, this gloomy demeanor made it seemingly much more of a reward to their lucky team members when they occasionally would smile in their general direction.

Of course, now looking back,t his approach seems unsupportive, counter-productive and culturally destructive but at the time it only seemed to be a sign of the displeasure and a sour personality that became easier to ignore as time passed.  And, I don’t recall ever having had a performance appraisal with that supervisor at all while I worked form them.

What scenes like these do you have in your career history?

How does this contrast or embody any of the thoughts of Drucker, Collins, Lencioni or Goldratt?  In your experience, how has it evolved over time?

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