Leadership and Hazardous Living: Following an Egoistical Leader – Nu Leadership Series

“Any committee is only as good as the most knowledgeable, determined and vigorous person on it. There must be somebody who provides the flame.”
Lady Bird Johnson

Elisa is a certified genius. She holds several college degrees (engineering, philosophy, etc.). She’s a team leader in a small organization. She routinely talks down to her staff. Elisa, however, feels that her staff appreciates her wisdom. Elisa is wrong. Her ego has made her the enemy of many employees. Elisa doesn’t understand why new employees are not sent to her organization.

Does Elisa sound like one of your co-workers? Does she sound like you? Don’t make the mistake of placing your technology before your people. If you should do so, expect to fail sooner or later. Let’s take another history lesson. Follow me to the founder of the scientific movement—Mr. Frederick Taylor. Mr. Taylor was a brilliant consultant, but he was ignored by the key decision-makers in his time. How could that have happened? This is the question that Taylor probably asked himself before his death. Before the scientific management approach, American factories were simply inefficient and uncooperative in nature. Factories paid laborers based on output. Managers had no work performance standards for workers. Taylor’s philosophy provided appropriate work performance standards and wages for labor. What’s the problem with Mr. Taylor, then?

Let’s explore Taylor’s leadership character. Wren and Greenwood, authors of Management Innovators, admit Taylor possibly wasn’t the best salesman for his philosophy. Taylor was often arrogant, somewhat caustic, and inflexible about implementing his ideas. He was a well-known curser and often showcased it on the wrong occasions. Some would argue that his contributions outweigh his character flaws. This is true if you operate on a worldview, not a practical perspective. His Quaker-Puritan background couldn’t hide the inner man. His personality didn’t endear him with his clients. Despite his wealth and fame, the last five years of his life were hard. On March 21, 1915, Taylor died with unfulfilled dreams.

Finally, although Taylor’s contributions are significant, he missed the mark of modeling the way. Leaders need a good attitude with followers. Don’t treat followers as your inferiors. As a matter of fact, leaders should treat everyone with dignity. Leave your arrogance at home. Mr. Taylor did not. Grow your relationships. Start today!

References:

Wren, D. (2005). The Evolution of Management Thought. Hooboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Wren, D. & Greenwood, R. (2005). Management Innovators. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green

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