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Continued from Previous……

The next management style seen in Pharma Managers is ‘The Know-All Big Brother’. Big Brother is the commonest style of management in First Line Managers, and Middle Managers. The style changes when they go up the ladder further, but not completely. Several remnants of BB behavior carry through the management life.

Big Brotherhood is not rooted in the benevolence. It is based in the grade-system which is in the foundation of the society along with several other social problems.

The Know-All Big Brother

The KBBs are under the spell that they have to know everything. They should be able to answer all questions from team and be able to solve all problems single-handedly. Being a BB, they also take it upon themselves to cross the professional border and get into the personal and family lives of the team. If a team member comes to the manager with a personal matter, it is not mandatory to make it his own problem. As a colleague and senior, whatever advice or support may be given, should be given. But the boundaries must be respected.

Some managers never even mention their family or personal matters to the team. They maintain a highly impersonal profile. Reciprocally, the team does not have the courage to talk about their personal things.

However, our KBB will dive full length into the personal life of the team members, suit and tie and all and try to save an imaginary person on the imaginary verge of drowning. He will also try to bring some rare, precious stones (of advice) from the seabed. And because he has done a huge act of kindness and charity by saving a drowning person (imagination), he believes he has become eligible to receive a life-time license for prying into the personal life of the poor guy.

The KBBs have all the answers to all problems. Added to it is their illusion that they do not need to consult anyone before taking a decision; because they know all. They insist that their approach, their strategy, their actions and their directives are the ultimate. Therefore no one should challenge them. When someone challenges them, they feel hurt; not offended. They feel hurt because they cannot imagine that a golden advice coming from a knowledgeable person who cares also, could ever be contested, much less rejected.

The above picture is a prototype. There may be various shades up and down the line.

The good thing about KBBs (and the BBBs) is that they own their team. They take full and even more responsibility of the team. They will protect their team members no matter what.

Another good thing is that they take full responsibility of their and their teams’ actions. Even in the face of negative results, they will stand firm and take responsibility.

The problems, however, are more than the benefits.

  • The inherent flaw with Big Brother thinking is ‘Patronization’. They consider that the team members are young and immature and should not be treated as equals. Patronization leads to imbalance; the ‘Patron’ gets onto a superior level, the ‘Patronized’ automatically goes to inferior level. This imbalance reflects in all dealings where the ‘Patronized’ is always at the receiving end. What he/she receives mostly is not positive. Patronization, unless it is done with the sole intent of support, leads to stunted growth. The new entrants to the job, the fresh graduates just becoming medical representative, are at the greatest risk. They may feel comfortable initially, but they lose precious learning opportunities.
  • The KBBs are also keen to ‘Lead from the Front’. And they desire that the team follows them wholeheartedly; although they do not explain mostly where they are going. Blind following has its own hazards; the biggest being the lack of understanding. It is important to know where one is going; it is even more important to know why go there.

Leading from the front is not clearly understood by most managers. It is a strategic act which is done under specific conditions. Consider some of these: the team is new and inexperienced; the task is complex and requires coordination at various levels; the team morale is down after some less than successful attempts; the goal is tough and requires motivation across the team; and there is some new strategic initiative. These are some conditions where all managers should preferably lead from the front. Under normal circumstances, it is better to ‘Lead from Behind’.

  • The intellectual activity and the resulting brain stimulation for generating new ideas is missing. The KBB is generating and floating all ideas which certainly get stale after a short while. The lack of group thinking affects team spirit and behavior negatively.
  • There is plenty of time wastage. All KBBs love to speak. They will speak endlessly (may not usefully) about themselves, their achievements, their analyses, their assessments and so on and so forth. The real topic gets lost easily; so is valuable time. It is not uncommon for first-line managers to call the team to office in the afternoon for no useful reason. Few hours are whittled away, but nothing is gained.

Do look inside and around and identify Know-All Big Brother Behavior. Do try to curb it even when it gets expressed occasionally.


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