That title could be stepping on all kinds of toes. Bear with it….for now at least.
I am sure you would agree that being a good person and being a good Nazi was not exactly straightforward. It is not easy to be kind, attentive and even human in an inauthentic – toxic, cruel , ‘inhuman’ system or environment.
But, as we well know, many Nazis who committed those awful atrocities were nice people.
They were generous neighbours and friends, they read bedtime stories to their children, they listened enraptured and moved by beautiful music. And yet they did the most cruel things to people!
Why? Because, again, it is difficult to be authentic when one belongs to or is part of a system that is inauthentic.
Good People and Poor Behaviour
You might not so easily see the connection between this and managing nor see a similar difficulty in being a good person while being a committed and loyal manager! And, of course, there are major differences in terms of scale, seriousness and the level of difficulty itself.
However, even allowing for that, there are connections and some similar difficulties.
Over the past number of years I have found myself in the position of working with managers on various issues including issues of how they manage their people.
Invariably, these were good people, nice people and people doing their jobs with the very best of intentions. I had very good and friendly relationships with many of them in the course of my work with them and their companies.
And yet, when I worked with the people who worked for these managers, I was presented with a very different image of these people: uncaring, punishing, judgmental, unfair, unreasonable, autocratic, despotic and disinterested.
The people who worked for these managers – these good and nice people – saw and described their managers in a very poor light.
Over and over and over I hear story after story of how people feel badly treated by their managers.
They would not have listened to me had I told them that their managers were really very good and nice people with good intentions. (No more than the victims of the Nazis would ever be convinced that those who ruled their lives were really nice people behind it all.)
I hope the point is clear. It is very difficult to be good and to do good if one is operating in a system, an environment, that is inauthentic, flawed or toxic, irrespective of one’s individual qualities or good intentions.
That is why it has been a waste of time and good money to try and train managers and leaders to handle people and responsibilities well while the system of management within which they operated was fundamentally flawed.
Victims of our Environment
And, flawed it is. It operates on a wrong philosophy, a false and out-of-date paradigm of the world based on mechanistic principles that don’t fit with how the world is or how people are. No one sees this because it is all we know.
For that reason, we have to create new approaches to managing and leading that are in line with how the world is and how human beings are.
These approaches will be built on trust, on healthy relationships, on seeing organisations as live and organic entities.
They will be built on a whole new version of what ‘managing’ or ‘leading’ means built around facilitation, Coaching, empowerment and inspiration.
This shift has already begun and there are pockets of the new approach in evidence in some Companies.
But, we need to change the whole approach so that the environment is a rich and developmental one that makes the most of the creativity of people and the potential and possibilities that are present in every situation.
When we do this, managers will, for the first time be able to really be themselves and bring their rich human qualities and goodness to their role as managers.
Only then can we expect to see truly good managers, free to be true to themselves and to their true humanity. Free to be authentic.
Is linking ‘good managers’ to ‘good Nazis’ a bit extreme? Of course it is, but the fundamental principle behind both is the same. It is extremely difficult to be authentic and to behave well in an environment that is inauthentic.
Creating authentic work environments is the most important work to be done.