Managers in Disguise—Leaders in Disgust explains the timeless struggles between the qualified and unqualified, the obvious and not so obvious. This book will challenge everything you think you know about positions of authority and how to get the most out of them. Removing the roadblocks to success can lead to rewards ranging from increased profits to increased employee retention. The consequences of not removing these roadblocks can be disastrous. This book is an extremely useful teaching tool that should be required reading for college students and employees, both potential new hires and all currently employed team members. If you are passionate about your work, reading this book should be a no-brainer. The strategies provided in this book are a win-win for any organization. Think of the benefits of everyone being exposed to the roadblocks to success and how to avoid them. When people know that you know what to watch out for, they tend to focus more on their accountability and the quality of their own efforts. That’s what this book is all about.
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Managers in Disguise-Leaders in Disgust
The Not-So Obvious Roadblocks to Success
By Robert E. Wood
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2017 Robert Wood
All rights reserved.
My Personal View
My father is a navy vet, former long-haul truck driver, and very simple man. I'm the way I am because of him. He showed me that simply meeting expectations isn't enough; that's all most people do, and it's impossible to set yourself apart by doing what most people do. Because of my father, attempting to exceed expectations is all I know. I have found that living life as a highly proactive person by continually striving to exceed expectations reaps great rewards. I'm not a man of great means, but I am passionate about making things as great as possible. I try to exceed expectations all day, every day. I pay close attention to the responses of the people I'm trying to inspire. Through their actions and responses to my approach, I am able to determine how I'm doing. My hope is to be remembered one day as a man that everyone knew they could count on: the dependable, resourceful man that the people around me always wanted.
The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.
— Motto of the US Army Corps of Engineers during World War II
I'm a military man. I joined the army when I was eighteen, right out of high school. Over the years I've held many positions: managing partner, shop foreman, supervisor, trainer, mechanic, electrician, plumber, electronics tech, and nondestructive testing technician. Through all these careers, I've stayed bent on being a lifelong team player.
To quote the great Hunter Phillips, my close friend and neighbor, "It's good to learn from your mistakes; it's better to learn from someone else's." I focus on this all the time, which means I'm not wasting my time on history repeating itself. I don't want to sound as if I only see bad things happening. I do see and appreciate good things, but at times when I look around, I wonder if I'm the only one who sees that something bad is about to happen or in the process of happening. Furthermore, sometimes I wonder if I'm the only guy around who sees how to go about correcting the factors that led to the bad situation so it doesn't happen again. Notice I said sometimes — I'm not claiming to be an oracle. I believe those of us who are as proactive and passionate about doing great things in life tend to see the finer details more easily and more often because our vision is focused on greatness.
Take, for instance, the difference between substandard and great leadership. It has become apparent to me that most organizations do not know there is a difference. When it comes to positions of authority, most organizations believe that the authority alone is all that's needed to make a great leader, so they stick to promoting or hiring whoever is willing, even if the willing aren't capable. Not everyone has to be a great leader, but there must always be effective leaders in positions of authority because most managers don't possess the ability to open the full power and potential of their teams, while true leaders will have their teams charging hell with buckets of water while making it look easy. An effective leader is more likely to recognize change in the normal state of affairs and address potentially adverse issues before the negative effects get out of acceptable limits. A leader will also tend to be cognizant of the direction the organization is headed and better prepared to properly navigate the impending roadblocks. Last but not least, leaders recognize their own weaknesses and surround themselves with talented people who can do what the leaders cannot do themselves. This is what customers and teammates want and expect. This is inspiring. The following chart summarizes the differences between leaders and managers in disguise.CHAPTER 2
The Heart of the Matter
One could deduce from the name of this book that I hold anyone above me in contempt. I assure you this is not the case. In today's lean culture, we're doing all we can do to make the process work for us instead of working for the process, like modifying and organizing assembly lines so fewer people are needed to operate them or cutting out waste in day-to-day office operations to reduce staff. This is great stuff as long as we're not selfish about it. I believe in streamlining everything from politics to manufacturing. But when organizations begin combining a lot of jobs into one for the sake of efficiency and profits, they should stop when they get to the supervisory and executive leadership positions that steer the organization and influence large groups of employees.
The indirect cost of combining leadership roles with other time-consuming duties — like filling in on a production line for extended periods of time, collecting hourly inventory and production data, or running errands for the boss — is massive. This mesh of duties is a huge problem for the government and private blue-collar and white-collar organizations. This approach does not add value and is not cost effective. I also understand the pressures involved in trying to do two jobs at the same time. I've tried it myself and found it to be inefficient. My job as a leader was to build more leaders and be a resource for the teams. Then one day my manager decided that I could be more beneficial to the company if I worked on a few weeklong projects while performing my normal duties. The teams didn't care much for the idea. They felt as if their resources were gone and we were neglecting them by not investing as much time in training them up to be our replacements. Motivation went down, and so did production. I worked very hard to exceed everyone's expectations, but the costs stemming from poor morale, poor production, and a downward-trending on-time delivery rate were just too high. Instead of doing one thing well, I was doing two things poorly, and this was unacceptable for me, the team, and our customers.
Many organizations, both government and private, combine jobs and then refuse to address problems that arise. They may be choosing to keep things the way they are for the following reasons:
1. They have made quid pro quo and pay-to-play deals with lobbyists, constituents, and/or their employees that have to be fulfilled.
2. They refuse to admit to making a bad decision.
3. They think the problem is too difficult to fix.
4. They won't demote or discipline their buddies.
What happened to continuous improvement? When private-sector organizations or politicians put lobbyists or profits before their constituents' or employees' expectations, valuable power and potential are lost. Here is the solution: separate the leadership role from any and every other duty. This is a winwin for everyone. Put values before profits, proactively invest in your people, and stop making sophomoric decisions. Then you will find your charts and graphs headed in the right direction. This makes business sense. When changes need to be made, real leaders don't hesitate. They act swiftly because it's what they are expected to do. But beyond that, it's the right thing to do — the moral thing to do — because the leader's main goal should be to keep all the teams moving forward as best they can. The teams expect greatness on every level. Lead by example, meet as many expectations as is reasonably possible, don't hesitate to do what's right, and be an actual resource to your teammates. Soon, you'll be a leader in your own right.
Another difference between a manager in disguise and a true leader is the manager in disguise always thinks everything will be all right and so feels no sense of urgency, while the leader believes the bottom is about to fall out and is always thinking about how he or she can prevent it. A manager in disguise will typically have a reactive mentality, while a leader will always have a proactive mentality. For instance, a manager in disguise will not voluntarily invest time or money in training his or her employees. He or she would rather wait and react to the needs of the customers instead of being proactive and getting out in front of the markets. With this reactive mentality, the odds of not being able to meet the customers' expectations in a timely manner increase dramatically.
I have experienced on numerous occasions people's ability and willingness to be a drag on an entire neighborhood, company, city, state, or even country strictly for selfish reasons. Have you heard the saying "One bad apple can ruin the whole bunch"? Of course you have! I once worked in an organization that used seniority as the basis for its employee-retention program. Once the worst employees of the organization, the type of people I call C team members, accrued enough seniority, they really began to take advantage of the system (the different teams that make up organizations will be more thoroughly discussed later on, in chapter 4). No matter how bad their attendance or production was, their seniority kept them safe. The C team's lack of respect for their work, teammates, and attendance was discouraging to everyone, but there was nothing their teammates could do about it. The C team selfishly delivered the bare minimum needed to keep their jobs. This is exactly what I'm writing about. Too many good, hardworking people have been negatively affected in all sorts of ways by a bad apple in the bunch. Other people's arrogance, dishonesty, and sophomoric decision-making abilities have hurt them. This is unfortunate and unnecessary.
Leadership is not for everyone, because there is no easy way out for a leader. For a true leader, there is no lobbyist influencing decisions, no hiding place, and no carpet to sweep things under. A true leader would rather disappoint you with the truth than make you happy with a lie. Leaders approach every issue with a sense of urgency because they know their teams gave them the power and the trust they have for this very reason. When the goal is greatness, managers in disguise will stand out like sore thumbs. Should they be allowed to keep riding along and dragging everything and everyone else down with them, including the people who put them there? No. Note that I refer to them as managers in disguise because a leader wouldn't allow the team or the culture to suffer unnecessarily. A leader doesn't tolerate uncooperative behavior; therefore, a culture of corruption is less likely to exist. Every day, true leaders will ask, "Did I do everything I could do today to make this place great?" On the other hand, managers in disguise, knowing they are in over their heads, will ask, "How can I play with my words and the data to make myself look good?" Failing managers should be reevaluated to determine whether or not they should be sent back to their former positions. A leader knows that once a problem is found, it must immediately be properly addressed — even removed if necessary. A problem employee must never be promoted beyond his or her ability or level of competence.
A manager in disguise is a manager in a position of authority who has no apparent leadership skills and knows it. It is a manager who lives in fear of losing his or her position yet refuses to step aside for the greater good of all affected. He or she may have a foul mouth and a nobody-ever-measures-up-to-my-standards attitude. You know them, the ones everyone, including the paying customers, complains about. Or they might be frat-boy types who believe their affiliations are more important than their accomplishments. True leaders can align the team's interests with the organization's interests and vice versa. If only true leaders are allowed to be in positions of authority, then the interests of everyone involved have a greater chance of aligning and adding value to the system with each step forward.
Everyone wants to work for an organization they feel is headed in the right direction. Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger. Everyone wants their opinions heard and understood. No one wants the quality of their efforts swept under the carpet while being forced to sit by and watch as some manager in disguise gets or takes credit for the quality of others' efforts. A true leader can achieve great things by not caring about who gets the credit, but not everyone is or wants to be a true leader. For instance, those who do not want the responsibility that comes with authority but still put forth a quality effort every hour on the job still need the quality of their efforts noticed for their own personal reasons.
Managers in disguise are the most expensive and ineffective people on the payroll. Take into account the people who put them there and their willingness to keep them there. Though I have been able to connect these dots, I cannot understand why they are allowed to exist. If you've been in business for any amount of time, you've probably witnessed the many different steps to an extensive cover-up. You probably also understand that covering something up can be more difficult, expensive, and time consuming than just doing it right the first time. Doing it right the first time adds value. The benefits to doing everything right the first time rather than covering it up are huge. Here are just a few of the benefits:
Morale goes up.
Organizational Volunteer Percentage Rate grows.
Waste goes down.
I just can't understand why anyone would deliberately run any type of organization off the cliff for a quick buck. Unfortunately, a lack of leadership of this magnitude is readily available in most organizations at all levels. The lack of love, honor, integrity, and respect for others is destroying our ability to excel in the world. In most cases, you do not have to look far to find a leader in disgust to whom you should give an opportunity and a chance to make a difference. A leader in disgust is a member of your A team who is ready for the chance to lead formally and is truly disgusted by the amount of dysfunction the executive members of the C team are willing to put up with. A leader in disgust is ready, willing, and able to step up and do the leadership work that needs to be done. It's the politics of change that gets in the way of progress, creativity, productivity, and so on. After all, the organizations with the best employees are usually the ones who tactfully separate themselves from their competition through innovation, profits, and teamwork.
I take leadership very seriously. It's not a word to be taken lightly. It really bothers all those who aspire to be great leaders, such as myself, when we try our best to take three steps forward just to have some politician, executive, or manager in disguise take us two steps backward. This is all too common because these people lack the passion, proactivity, and/or desire it takes to earn the right to hold their positions. Everyone needs traction and a grip on things; nobody wants to be spinning his or her wheels without making progress.
Not everyone's quality effort is the same. The key is that it be your quality effort, not anyone else's. That is all anyone can and should expect of themselves or others. It is those who choose not to put forth their quality efforts that are the problem. There's a big difference between a plain effort and a quality effort. A plain effort is just enough to keep your job. A quality effort requires you to be the person you said you'd be when you interviewed for the job. Do you remember that person? When you were interviewed, in some form or fashion you were basically asked, "Why do I need your services over the other potential hires'?" You likely answered with something every employer wants to hear. It was probably something sharp like "I will put forth a quality effort for every hour on the job" or "I'm a highly proactive team player, and I will show up early and leave late." In the workplace, to gain influence, we must always strive to be that person we said we would be prior to our employment.CHAPTER 3
Nobody is perfect, but there is something to be said about those who will not go down without striving to be viewed as a leader. People who are passionate about their work and ready, willing, and able to learn the rest should always be an executive's first choice. So how can we identify true leaders? True leaders set themselves apart with these qualities:
humility — Just because you know you're awesome doesn't mean you have to tell everybody; just show them.
caring — People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
honesty — It's called the best policy for a reason.
candidness (but also tactfulness) — Be open and forthright yet respectful. Why hold back?
approachability — Be friendly. Others won't be honest with you if they cannot approach you.
Excerpted from Managers in Disguise-Leaders in Disgust by Robert E. Wood. Copyright © 2017 Robert Wood. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Contents1. My Personal View, 1,
2. The Heart of the Matter, 5,
3. Leadership Qualities, 13,
4. Our Teams, 17,
5. The Finer Details, 23,
6. Choices and Opportunities, 29,
7. It's a Two-Way Street, 33,
8. Dots to Connect for Success, 41,
9. Spreading the Love, 47,
10. Incentives = Retention, 53,
11. Performance and Seniority, 57,
12. Set Up to Fail, 59,
13. The Transition, 65,
14. Steps to Success, 69,
15. Overcoming the Roadblocks to Success, 71,
16. Terminations, 77,
17. Hiring, 83,