We are good at reducing bad leadership

Most leaders and managers are well aware that the quality of their performance has a huge influence on the people they manage or lead. This is also why organisational feedback systems are so valuable because they indicate how and where the leader or manager can improve so that we can reduce bad leadership to a minimum.
I have helped leaders develop for almost two decades and for sure a lot has happened. We do have much better leaders and managers than 20 years ago.
But there is still a blind spot that we haven’t succeeded in dealing with effectively, namely non-management.

What is non-management?


Non-management is the situation where there is no management or leadership at all. There is a person in place but he or she doesn’t exercise their leadership or management at all. That leaves the organisation frustrated and leads to the development of an informal, Darwinistic organisation.

Non-management are particularly widespread in smaller and mid-sized companies, whereas larger companies usually have procedures to deal with that that involves training, coaching or removal of the managers or leaders who don’t do their jobs.

Being employed in an organisation where it is non-management is dreadful. You never know if you are doing the right or the wrong thing and you don’t know where the company is heading. It makes you feel insecure, frustrated and de-motivated. The vacuum created by the non- management gives space for people who want to fill the gap either out of frustration or because they have leadership ambitions.

In either case, the organisation is suffering and everybody can feel it. customers, employees, middle managers, suppliers and investors can feel that something is wrong, but they can point their fingers at one specific cause. When you have a situation with bad management it is easy because it is much more tangible what causes the bad situation. In this case of non-management, it is much more difficult.

The fear of taking responsibility

I was recently trying to help a hotel that had very bad ratings and they didn’t understand why. When I started to interview the employees and some guests it rapidly became clear that there was no management of the hotel despite there was a hotel manager employed. The owner of the hotel was tired of being involved in the hotel and had no leadership- og management skills herself. She only cared about the financials, which also meant that she never invested in getting the right skilled people on board. Everyone, including the hotel manager, was very young without any proper professional training. But all these young people did the best they could, but they all ended up frustrated, stressed out and de-motivated. That leads to bad ratings and very high employee turn-over.
What can you do to recover from bad leadership in the form of non-management?
If you have ever tried to work in a non-management environment you know how frustrating it is. You also know that your options for doing something are very limited. They are reduced to:

  • Leave and find a new job
  • Try to compensate for the non-management so that the customers don’t pay the price
  • Shout up with the risk of being fired.

The people who exercise non-management are often entrepreneurs who had a great idea that became successful. They are innovators and often get bored when the organisation grows and they have to spend time managing other people. Often innovators don’t trust other people can do the job as well as they can themselves. Therefore they either micro-manage or don’t manage at all, like in the case described above.

To change the situation, it is my experience that the best thing the employees can do is to collectively formulate a latter where they outline the need for management and guidance. In that letter, they also have to emphasize that the non-management situation hurts the financial situation of the company. The attitude in the letter must be to help the owner making the business even better and make him or her understand that there is a clear correlation between employee satisfaction – customer satisfaction and profitability
Are you an entrepreneur who is exercising non-management?

What can you do to avoid non-management?

If you are a company owner and if you by now are wondering if the people in your organisation are satisfied or dissatisfied with who things are running there is only simple first move you can make. Ask! You might consider yourself a nice person, but people might still fear you or fear for what will happen if they speak up. So, therefore, you should try to make it possible for your employees to anonymously suggest how your company and organisation can improve. When they see that you are accepting the suggestions with an open mind and in the right spirit you can change the feedback method. But if you want honesty – start with anonymous feedback.

Dr Finn Majlergaard
Dr Finn Majlergaard

CEO Gugin, Professor, Keynote Speaker, Author

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