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Continued from Previous……

The next management style seen in Pharma Managers is ‘The Autocratic Big Brother’.

I have been emphasizing that the Big Brother resides in all of us. Per se, it is not a crime to be a Big Brother. What we do with it makes it good or bad.

The Autocratic Big Brother

The ABBs are strong characters. They find it extremely difficult to behave normally in following situations.

  • Difference of opinion – the ABBs are highly opinionated. It is hard for them to accept anyone who carries a different opinion. It is a two-pronged problem. One, the ABBs carry tainted opinions because of their inherent bias; two, they do not allow their opinions to be corrected in any way. The team keeps getting disengaged, but they fail to even recognize it, much less accept it. Dissent, if done constructively, is very healthy. It triggers the thought process and engages everyone to find ways to perform better.
  • Disobedience – Not following is not ‘Disobedience’, but the ABBs see it that way, hence the word here. The ABBs always work through ‘Directives’. Do this; Don’t do this – is their mantra. They have a command ready for every job to be done. Once they have issued a directive, it is well-nigh impossible to challenge them because they will raise hell about it. The habit of giving directions to everyone and at all times, even your own children, is a bad habit. There is nothing wrong with giving directives but there is a time and place for it. For example, if there is a complex task at hand, giving orders only will not be able to accomplish a good job. The people involved in complex jobs need to understand the ‘why’ of ‘what’ they are doing. Similarly, giving directives to a fresh person is sensible because he is not aware of many things. However, giving similar directives to a highly experienced person is wrong, as it will alienate him from work. The ABBs do not wish to appreciate the difference and keep barking the same orders to the whole group.
  • Criticism – it is difficult for everyone to take criticism gracefully. Few people remain composed when confronted with criticism. It is disregarding the fact whether the criticism was genuine or otherwise. The ABBs react violently to criticism. They will try to first kill the critic with words; counter-criticism, personal attacks, insults and what not. If wounded more deeply, they will make the critic’s life miserable. Either the poor guy will fall on his knees and ask for forgiveness or will depart. In the famous novel ‘Godfather’ the youngest son of Don remarks before starting vengeance campaign against the opponents who killed his brother; “Everything is personal”. This is sadly the motto of ABBs. And nothing hits them more personally than criticism.
  • Challenge to Writ – whether the challenge is real or perceived, the ABBs will react the same way; and the way is Violent. The ABBs guard jealously what they consider as their fiefdom. Their team, their territory is their domain and they rule it with iron hand. Dissent, disagreement, non-compliance, non-adherence, even non-achievement is taken as a challenge to their writ. And by God, they know how to tackle challenges.

On the positive side, the Autocratic Big Brothers are generally better achievers because they push their team hard. It is probably in the human nature to submit, to demur, to accept, and to follow. Resistance, Firmness, standing in the face of oppression are not usual for ordinary people. We are all ordinary people, but sometimes ordinary people overcome innate weakness and do extraordinary tasks as leaders. Dictators had had great successes because of their strength and charisma and leadership profile. None of them however gained lasting success; long-term, continuing change and success comes through humility.

The ABBs are also good in implementing policies and bringing compliance. They do not take no and therefore the subordinate finally complies. They also ensure discipline, if they are disciplined themselves.

On the negative side, the ABBs are poor in developing people. They do not train them, do not make them understand the ‘why’ of things, don’t give them knowledge, and don’t give them space to develop.

Talent retention is another serious issue with the ABBs. While they work easily with low-profile people, they cannot see eye to eye with more talented people. The ABBs feel threatened while the high-potential feel suffocated. The ultimate result is separation.

The ABBs do have their vulnerabilities. They are not as strong as they pose to be. This is an outward appearance that they try to manage. We may not be able to love the ABBs, but we do not need to hate them either.


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