Shouting is NOT Leadership!

I was reminded recently of an excellent example of a management style which can be seen demonstrated in most, if not all organisations, at least some times. The reminder came in the form a of TV show which is known for it’s satirical view on life, Blackadder. In the episode concerned (Dual & Duality) Edmund Blackadder is asking the Duke of Wellington about his approach to his staff. It goes like this:

Blackadder : Tell me do you ever stop bullying and shouting at the lower orders?
Wellington : NEVER! There’s only one way to win a campaign SHOUT, SHOUT and SHOUT again.
Blackadder : You don’t think that inspired leadership and tactical ability have anything to do with it?
Wellington : (pausing for a second…) NO! It’s all down to shouting!

We have all seen this in places we work, possibly even a place you are in today, because the reality is that this style, if you can call it that, is demonstrated all too often. I myself have seen this approach not all that long ago, I have probably even used it on occasion, but it is an extremely blunt weapon and once used it is difficult to ever show that this is not your normal style and regain the trust and support from your staff.

I believe it is born out of one of three things, firstly it is a sign of inexperience as a manager. Second it will often develop out of anger and frustration and finally it is shown when the manager concerned has a need for significance and control over his subordinates, in other words bullying.

The inexperienced manager is often faced with a situation which he has not encountered. A situation where perhaps a staff member is not being as helpful as they could or they don’t seem to perform or deliver quite what is required. After several attempts to explain the situation, and failing, the manger resorts to a raised voice and occasionally insulting remarks because they know of no other way to effect change.

No matter how calm anyone is most of the time, there will be occasions where the stress levels rise, the cortisol flows through the veins and they let go. How people let go shows the level of maturity and control they have over their own actions. Individuals that have total control will let go in such a way that you would never even notice, if anything they move to a calmer state and their breathing becomes more controlled. At the other end of the scale we have the emotional Neanderthals, they have absolutely no control and what’s more justify there lack of control by blaming others for driving them to it. If you have worked with one of these, as I have, then you can be in real trouble. Dealing with this type of manager can be a daily battle and it can destroy a team or department, it will also generally increase staff turn over because people cannot work in this type of environment for too long.

When bullying leads to shouting it is often the case that the bully does not even see it.They may even exhibit exemplar behaviour to their superiors and external suppliers or customers. The problem with these types is you are never quite sure when the mountain will erupt. Over time staff can build up experience and spot the clues or ‘tells’  but for the most part the hair trigger will go and the unfortunate person standing in the wrong place gets both barrels, or at least a good hair drying and spittle!

No true Leader will ever behave this way, only a bad Manager would act like this. A Leader knows ways to manifest change in both themselves and others without intimidation or even a raised voice. True leadership starts with mastery of oneself and until you can get the best out of yourself, until that can be achieved, one can never really get the best out of others.

If you want to stop being a bad manager and start being a great leader then you should know ‘There’s only one way to win a campaign’ and that is NOT to shout and NEVER to bully.


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