The Buggy Whip Phenomenon of Leadership

Calling all those in leadership roles. Go grab your buggy whips.  Beyond thinking none or what is this crazy lady talking about buggy whips and leadership, let me explain.

leadershipIn today’s marketplace change is happening at what appears to be warp speed.  Yet in speaking with leaders in many different organizations within a plethora of industries, there are still many in leadership roles who lead using a buggy whip.  Of course, we have not seen horse drawn buggies for over 100 years, but that does not matter to these leaders.

“Buggy Whip” leadership is very top down and very “I am in charge directed.”  You will follow this directive. I am reminded of Star Trek The Next Generation with the “Borg” story line of “Resistance is futile. You must comply.”

Another result of this “Buggy Whip” leadership is a lack of intrinsic motivation because employees are “conditioned” to specific behaviors similar to horses. Snap the whip and the horses go without thinking.  This conditioning is the result of extrinsic motivation, the whip.  Of course without the whip, the horses, oops I mean employees, have little or no desire to move.

Where this type of leadership appears to be more prevalent is within the banking, healthcare, government and family owned businesses. The mantra of “we have always done it this way” is often heard and usually implied even with all the changes happening within these industries. Worse yet even when change is implemented such as new leadership development the old behaviors quickly return.

A last result of buggy whip leadership is the negative impact on workplace culture (aka employee engagement) especially the positive core values. When employees fear being hit by the buggy whip, this creates a culture of scarcity thinking (no innovation), cover your behind mentality, lack of personal accountability and very weak leadership behaviors by designated leaders.  “Buggy Whip” leaders may help to explain why there are still so many disengaged employees. (Source Gallup Annual Poll on Employee Engagement)

Finally within workplace culture, business ethics or positive core values become trampled down for fear of repercussions. No one wants to tell the supreme leader he or she is naked (The Emperor’s New Clothes) for fear of losing his or her job.

Possibly your organization may be suffering from “Buggy Whip” leaders or within some departments where those in leadership roles have been there forever may be demonstrating some of these non-productive leadership behaviors.  This free Leadership-Align-Audit-ADVSYS may help you determine if your organization is facing the symptoms “Buggy Whip” Leaders.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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2 Responses to “The Buggy Whip Phenomenon of Leadership”

  • I have told the abusive manager several times and recently was terminated for reacting negatively to his out of no where verbal assault which literally blind sighted me as I was working quietly at my desk when the abuse occurred. There seems to be no laws to protect employees against a verbally and emotionally abusive boss who owns part of the company. Tyrants and profanity and put downs and screaming are his management style. I worked there 2 years and 5 months and am the primary support in our family.

  • Betty I am truly sorry for your situation. Unfortunately we cannot legislate bad behaviors. I had a client who had faced similar situation and she realized the culture of the organization was not working for her. She also was the primary support in her family. She did find another position.

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