Listen to the podcast (about 3 minutes). 20 June 2013 Idea Incubator Bad Bosses
A recent article in Harvard Business Review by Jeffrey Pfeffer (April 2013, pg. 36) describes bad bosses, power, and the effect on teams.
Such bad bosses tend to break the rules and shun organizational norms. Yet, research shows that this behavior can actually build the leader’s power – as long as he/she can get away with it. Pfeffer notes the effects of a “capricious” boss on the employees:
- Motivation declines,
- Learning decreases, and
- Stress increases.
Innovation teams and project management teams cannot succeed under these circumstances. When creativity is a requirement of successful task delivery, as in new product development (NPD), or safely constructing a new plant or facility, employees need to have high degrees of both intellectual trust and emotional trust*.
With a rule-breaking boss, emotional trust falls to near zero levels. Team members cannot predict the boss’ response to risk or disappointing experimental data. Thus, the employees take fewer and fewer risks, yielding a net decline in innovation.
Instead, organizational norms should be exemplified by the leaders. Bosses should consider all the data, including valid risks, in determining whether a project moves forward. Structured gate reviews, as in the NPD processes, clearly lay out the decision criteria for individual projects to advance to the next stage. Portfolio management also assists in consistently delivering project decisions by assessing overall value in utilizing the firm’s scarce resources.
To learn more about NPD processes and portfolio management, you might enjoy these articles, too.
- How to Manage an NPD Project: 3 Skills to Help You Become More Effective,
- Best Practices in Portfolio Management, and
- Investing in Innovation.
Finally, as a check on your team’s effectiveness, ask whether your organization’s leaders are breaking the rules or exemplifying the expected standards of behavior.
* Rosenfeld, Robert B., Gary J. Wilhelmi, and Andrew Harrison. The Invisible Element: A practical guide for the human dynamics of innovation. !nnovation Press (2011).
Image of breaking rules courtesy of Ali Davies.
Image of bad boss courtesy of Undercover Recruiter.
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