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Bigwigs Behaving Badly Understanding and Coping with Notable Misbehavior A Presentation for OAMSS Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. November 12, 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "Bigwigs Behaving Badly Understanding and Coping with Notable Misbehavior A Presentation for OAMSS Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. November 12, 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bigwigs Behaving Badly Understanding and Coping with Notable Misbehavior A Presentation for OAMSS Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. November 12, 2004

2 Why is this important? Bigwigs often behave badly. Because of their status or power, bigwigs regularly indulge in destructive behavior with no significant adverse consequence. Temper tantrums are overlooked. Intimidation is accepted, even reinforced. Verbal abuse is tolerated and tyrants are lionized. Even physical abuse and destruction of property are more common than we would like to admit. But tolerating and thereby encouraging such behavior exacts an awful price. Disruptive behavior wounds others and leaves lasting organizational scars. After listening to this presentation, you will be able to –Describe three ways in which bigwigs regularly behave badly in our organizations –List three consequences of such behavior –Identify three strategies for minimizing such destructive behavior –Explain why those strategies should be pursued –Detail how these approaches can be practically deployed in your organization

3 What are some of the consequences? Critical processes are disrupted. People are afraid to speak up, and mistakes occur as a direct result. Good people become discouraged and turn into bitter, negative complainers. Impressionable young leaders begin to adopt this destructive behavior as a preferred coping strategy. People lose faith in their leaders. The best people move on to more nourishing work environments.

4 What’s a thoughtful leader to do? Don’t overreact to background noise. –People can be too sensitive. Recognize warning signs and intervene early.* Limit the damage. –Move the issue offstage quickly. Volunteer to be a lightning rod. –Take the blame promptly. Welcome harmless venting. –Actually, venting is never entirely harmless. Let the emotional dust settle.* Change the rules of the game. –Go public with provocateurs’ bad behavior. Remember that perception is reality. –Bigwigs do not want to be held accountable for managing perceptions. Protect your flank. –Line up (and provide) support beforehand. Confront the perpetrator directly whenever possible. –Provide necessary support, but insist that others take a stand.

5 What’s a thoughtful leader to do? 2 Focus on behavior, not motive.* Understand but don’t excuse. –Accept feelings but not bad behavior. Consider the power differential. –Powerful people must be held to a higher standard. Don’t let victims remain victims. –Insist that they take a stand. Give bad actors a chance to do the right thing. –Give them a chance to repair the damage themselves. Pick the best option and then follow through. –Take time to consider your options. Don’t protect wrongdoers from the consequences of their sin. –A well-healed scar is the best that an adulterer can hope for. Reinforce improved behavior. –People can and do change—but not that much. When the life of the organization is a stake, shoot to kill. –Don’t wound bears. Take a look in the mirror. –It’s always easier to see flaws in others.

6 Recognize warning signs and intervene early. Why should you? –Misbehaving bigwigs almost always take pains to hide their behavior from peer and superiors. –By the time it’s obvious, irreparable damage may have been done. –A failure to confront encourages additional misbehavior. –A good number of bigwigs simply do not know how to behave. How can you? –Monitor the grapevine. –Observe your subordinate’s subordinates when in her presence. –Most insecure leaders can’t resist bragging about their outbursts; they want their behavior to be legitimized. –Seize that opportunity to model appropriate confrontation. –Make your behavioral expectations clear.

7 Let the emotional dust settle. Why should you? –Emotional people are not reasonable. –Our defense mechanisms are strongest when we are aroused. –Emotional arousal is contagious. –A calm leader helps to prevent collateral emotional damage. –Most emotional leaders feel they have every right to be upset. –They believe someone “made” them upset, or they believe they cannot help themselves. How can you? –Monitor your own emotional arousal. –Be quiet. –Let some time pass. –Focus on remaining a curious observer instead of being drawn in as a participant. –Accept the legitimacy of the flawed leader’s frustration while challenging the behavior that was a consequence. –Ask clarifying questions instead of disagreeing directly.

8 Focus on behavior, not motive. Why should you? –Feeling justified, they want to talk about “why” instead of “what.” –Behavior can be objectively described. Motive cannot. –Most aroused people are not fully aware of how they behave—or perceived. –Behavior can be controlled; feelings are much more difficult to control. How can you? –Insist on objective documentation of observed behavior. –Document the brutal truth about the offending bigwig’s behavior. –Refused to be sidetracked during discussions about behavior. –Stop rewarding misbehavior.

9 What have you learned? Bigwigs frequently behave badly, and it is a problem. If you are such a bigwig, stop it. If you don’t know how to or can’t stop, get professional help now. If you are an organizational leader, you have an obligation to stand up to the bullies in the work environment. Now that you know some practical strategies for dealing with difficult bigwigs, make up your mind to take a more effective approach. If you persist in your determination to attach adverse consequences to bad behavior, such behavior will diminish over time, and the organizational environment will improve.

10 Where can you learn more? Stewart, Kendall L., et. al. A Portable Mentor for Organizational Leaders, SOMCPress, 2003 (This book can be ordered from Stewart, Kendall L., “Physician Traps: Some Practical Ways to Avoid Becoming a Miserable Doctor” A SOMCPress White Paper, SOMCPress, July 24, 2002 Stewart, Kendall L. et. al, “On Being Successful at SOMC: Some Practical Guidelines for New Physicians” A SOMCPress White Paper, SOMCPress, January 2001 Stewart, Kendall L., “Bigwigs Behaving Badly: Understanding and Coping with Notable Misbehavior” A SOMCPress White Paper, SOMCPress, March 11, 2002 (For a limited time, this White Paper can be downloaded from Stewart, Kendall L., “Relationships: Building and Sustaining the Interpersonal Foundations of Organizational Success” A SOMCPress White Paper, SOMCPress, March 11, 2002

11 How can we contact you? Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. Medical Director Southern Ohio Medical Center President & CEO The SOMC Medical Care Foundation, Inc. 1805 27th Street Portsmouth, Ohio 45662 740.356.8153

12 Southern Ohio Medical Center   Safety Safety  Quality Quality  Service Service  Relationships Relationships  Performance Performance  What questions do you have?

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