It hurts as hell… Suddenly you feel unwanted, undervalued and sidelined. Your performance may still be at the same level as before or even better, but it is ignored or worse they are explained away as not good enough using some mumbo-jumbo !! Then ways are found to get you out of the team, you are not invited for the in-group parties, you are not even allowed the dignity of speaking at info shares, town halls etc and your appraisal is probably done over phone or email – sounds familiar ? One possible explanation for the above happening in your corporate life is, you are paying the price for non-conformance. The current regime likes to have conformity of thoughts and action and you think differently. A classic difference – you build for the future and the new boss thinks of the here and now. When you have this type of difference – you might as well be from different planets. There is not much maturity to understand this difference and if your boss has the corporate tail wind behind him/her – you definitely are being blown out, not in or up !!
The price of non-conformance can be huge – plum postings/assignments not coming your way, careers getting derailed, your equity in the organization getting diluted and go all the way to one losing his/her job 🙁
Conformity is convenient but dangerous for the organization’s well being. But it is so convenient that you are lulled into believing its good for the organization. As a leader, you should create an atmosphere where new thoughts and different ways of solving a problem are allowed, there has to be space for healthy conflict and many leaders are uncomfortable with conflict and free flow of ideas because they feel it takes longer to get to a solution – yes it does, but it leads to the best solution, not “your” known solution. Get comfortable with that. Infact I want to quote this verbatim from Patrick Lencioni’s book “Five Temptations of a CEO”. This is a conversation between two characters but it brings home the point beautifully. Andrew is the current CEO and Charlie’s father used to run a railroad.
“Charlie – Harmony is like cancer to good decision making… the only way to come to a good decision quickly is to suck all of the honest opinions out of people efficiently.
Andrew – You said you father almost always made good decisions.
Charlie – That’s right. Because he almost never made a decision without having the full benefit of everyone’s ideas.”
Never make a decision without having the full benefit of everyone’s ideas and expecting conformance will not do it.
There are several leadership training programs, and executive coaches for leaders – I wonder if they identify these traits and either help the leader overcome this behaviour or get the leader moved out of the organization. Very tough – but much needed. This type of leader is also what Jack Welch described as “Kiss up and Kick down” leaders – just more subtle, they have huge fan following amongst those that conform, so it appears as though the person is a star. You will need to spend time with people who moved out of the team to understand this type and its not easy always.
But who said leading is easy ? And being a great leader is even more difficult !! Creating an organization that truly succeeds without you – nearly impossible. That is the challenge.