Am I the only one who finds it odd that people conduct research that produces the most obvious of conclusions? Take this from today's Age:
"One in 10 Australian managers are deceitful, cold-hearted manipulators bent on attaining power for its own sake, new research shows.
Devoid of empathy, they are reckless and leave in their wake a trail of wrecked careers, corporate destruction, distress and a legacy of fear.
A psychotherapist with the consultancy Banks Management Group, Glyn Brokensha, has coined the term "power-pathic" to describe such managers, to differentiate them from criminal psychopaths.
Dr Brokensha said power-paths thrive in businesses with autocratic management cultures. In such environments power-paths, who are typically articulate, charming and confident, can quickly curry favour with their peers and superiors, while causing misery for the staff who report to them.
"You'll get senior management say, 'So-and-so is really good, he has cleared out all the dead wood, all the non-performers', and then find three years later that the dead wood has not been cleared out, he has cleared out anybody who knew what he was, anyone who opposed him," he said.
"He is actually a glib non-performer himself."
Dr Brokensha said power-paths typically introduced meaningless reforms and endless reviews to cover up for the fact that they achieve very little.
"They have no real goals, and what goals they do have are for themselves, not the institution they work for," he said.
Dr Brokensha said it was vital that companies win the regard and trust of their junior employees if they were to quickly detect power-pathic managers and prevent expensive and long-term damage. "Ask the little people in organisations and the people in service roles. Look for the tell-tale pattern of a massive gulf between the good person you think the power-path is and the reality provided by employee feedback."
Dr Brokensha said his estimate of the number of power-paths was based on thousands of interviews he had done over 25 years."
Thanks Dr Bokensha. And no shit. I could have told you that one in ten managers behaves in such wicked extremes and not wasted 25 years trying to work it out.
But I think it is worth remembering that managers by definition will always be- in some way or another- a "power-path", and that is how they become managers in the first place. You (generally) need to be strong-willed, charming, confident and decisive to be a manager, to set your agenda and to set out about making it a reality. And it is no surprise that some take this behaviour to autocratic monster extremes. And as a result a poor managerss. Just like it would be no surprise that some drift off into a laisse-faire party style, and are equally poor as managers.
At least you attempted to avoid confusing bad managers with criminal psychopaths.