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Tom Gibbons

I often think that this need to make culture seem rosy and positive on the part of senior leadership comes from the rampant hero myth that pervades senior roles. They are cast as, and see themselves as heros, accountable for the creation of their organizations and as such anything less than wonderful is a failure of varying degress or creates a focus of blame on those 'under' them for not being wonderful.

Finding ways to help senior people be ok with being human is often a tough challenge but can really add sustainalbe value for them and their organizations. It will be interesting to hear the next part of this story.

Chris Rodgers

Thanks, Tom.

I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. I talk in the book about "the leadership paradox", in which leaders are both in control and not in control at the same time. The hero myth that you mention demands that leaders are seen to be in control all of the time. And this, coupled with people's general desire to make sense of the world in ways which imply that they (or others on their behalf) have control over outcomes, places a high premium on seemingly rational explanations and approaches.

In this regard, Keith Grint talks about what he calls "the banal paradox of management" (in Fuzzy Management). He argues that much of the management theory found in books and on courses is banal, in that it tells us what we already take for granted and know to be true. At the same time, it is a paradox because, despite being full of common sense, it doesn't seem to work!

In this case, the senior manager involved was genuinely keen to get a feel for the taken-for-granted assumptions that create a tendency to think and act in particular ways. However, besides the above pressures to demonstrate his being in control, I suggested in the last post that he was also unknowingly caught up the in the assumption that being seen to be negative was unacceptable.

Cheers, Chris

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