Hiding in plain sight

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Have you ever worked for a manager who was extra fussy about policies, procedures and doing things in a very specific way? One of the exercises in our Front Line Leadership program involves having participants act out different leadership styles to see how they impact results and employee satisfaction.

One of the styles is called The Conformist. This type of manager makes his or her employees comply with onerous unnecessary requirements. This rigid pursuit of policies and procedures demotivates employees because they cannot see the value and it blocks innovation and creativity.

What is behind this behavior is a desire for the manager to be able to go unnoticed. They love being in the middle – not a bottom performer because it draws unwanted attention and not a top performer because it creates too much attention and higher expectations.

At a deeper level this manager is insecure and hopes to go undetected by playing it safe.

Putting Ideas into Action

  • If you fit into the definition of a Conformist reflect on whether you might be overdoing it with rules, policies and procedures.
  • Consider focusing on setting challenging goals for yourself and for your team.
  • Encourage innovation and creativity.
  • Resist the urge to over control situations.
  • If you work for a Conformist help him or her minimize perceived risk. Encourage small non-threatening changes and provide positive encouragement when they loosen up their requirements.