Week 4: “Radical Change, the Quiet Way”
I was told by a manager years ago that “no one likes to hear someone screaming that the Emperor is naked”. At the time I had no idea what he meant. I got the basic message that I needed to be quiet, but I didn’t fully understand the fable. Of course, after years of experience it became clear. No one likes to be criticized, or to have their leader criticized. This means that even if our beloved leader (company, friend, whatever the object of the complaint is) appears naked with a kingdom full of people able to see them, it is simply not polite or respectful to begin screaming to point it out. You’ll likely accomplish more productive change with tempered, timely, and respectful communication.
Initial Post Instructions
Read “Radical Change, the Quiet Way” then think of a time when you felt compelled to yell out that the Emperor is naked (metaphorically speaking). Use the actions described in the “Ideas in Action” section to describe possible actions you could have taken. What reaction would you likely have received if you had simply hollered out and identified loudly all the things that are wrong with the situation? How might the outcome be different if you used the actions described? How do the concepts discussed reinforce the need for effective communication? Use and cite a minimum of three scholarly references beyond the texts used in the course to defend your reasoning.
Follow Up Posts
Your initial post should be a minimum of 300 words in length, and is due on Sunday. By Tuesday, you should respond to two additional posts from your peers.
There are many occasions in which it can be difficult not to state the obvious, especially in situations in which the actions of others are reflective of your own performance. Working as part of a team it is necessary for all members to fulfill their obligations to a project. As a manager it is an important task to delegate, but sometimes in the end the when delegated tasks are not completed it reflects poorly on the manager. In my personal experience, there have even been occasions in which my boss in a director position has failed miserably to meet obligations. One recent project our pharmacy was dealing with national drug shortages and we were swapping a particular medication on shortage out of the crash carts within the hospital. There were about 250 carts that required exchanging, and there were about 15 carts that were located offsite. The only role of the director was to communicate the exchange to the offsite locations. We went live on a Monday and the following week in a patient services meeting we discovered the exchange never occurred at the offsite. The director made excuses and passed the blame on someone else in the department. That was the moment I really had to restrain myself from really letting everyone know what happened. The conflict is torn between speaking up and potentially jeopardizing your job or suffering in silence (Smith, 2013). It was very discouraging to see a leader not display accountability of their own actions. It would have been easy to criticize their lack of action, but there would not be a positive impact contributed by such an action. Openly criticizing or pointing out a boss’s mistake is a punch to their ego and is a sure way to be excluded from future meetings or projects (Perino, 2019). Instead, there are opportunities to turn the negative experience to bring radical change.
This would have been an opportunity to use the concept of verbal jujitsu. The negative statements that were made could have been redirected into positive change. I should have requested to meet with him in private and discuss my frustration with his behavior. Maybe by letting the director know that it was disappointing not only that he did not follow thru with the action item, but then casted blame on someone else would prevent him from doing this again in the future. Management that leads by example sets the tone for those in lower levels of an organization whom are watching closely (Lipman, 2016). Leading by example and communicating effectively are some of the most powerful tools a manager can display.
Smith, J., How to Deal With a Bullying Boss, Forbes Magazine. September 20, 2013.
Perino, M., Gillett, R., Smith, J., Things you Should Never Say to Your Boss. Business Insider. June 14, 2019.
Lipman, V., The Best Managers Always Lead By Example, Forbes Magazine. February 4, 2016.
I felt the need to cry the “Emperor is naked” at one the former places that I was worked. I was employed as a Customer Service Representative for a local insuance agency. I worked directly with an insurance agent who was always very kind to me, but I felt like he had some inappropriate business tactics. He used to sign documents for his insurance clients in his office without them being present. He always told me that he had their permission, but I still felt like it was wrong. Even when an organization has achieved clarity, role modeling, achievability, and commitment, undesirable behavior can still rear its head (Kaptein, 2013). I felt this was the case with my superior.
I was very young and straight out of college, so I did not feel comfortable saying anything at the time. As I look back on it, if it had happened to me now, I would definitely say something. This week in our readings, I learned about tempered radicals. Tempered radicalism negotiates the tension between individuality and group membership, that is, between assertion of the self and its submersion for the sake of the collective goals (Durant, 2004). I wish that I would have had some of this knowledge when I was working in this position.
I believe that I would have used the approach of Strategic Alliance Building. I would hope that I could have worked with some of my co-workers to create some kind of accountability or a stricter office policy about signed documents that were issued for our clients. Tempered radicals are patient change agents who provoke organizational learning and incremental adaptation (Sullivan, 2002). I wish that I would have had the courage to stand up and make a change so that a client’s paperwork would not have been jeopardized in that situation.
Durant, R. A. (2004). Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work. Organizational Analysis (15517470), 12(1), 83–85. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=16372428&site=ehost-live
Kaptein, M. (2013). Workplace Morality : Behavioral Ethics in Organizations (Vol. First edition). Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xna&AN=605058&site=ehost-live
Sullivan, S. E. (2002). Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work. Academy of Management Executive, 16(2), 175–176. https://doi.org/10.5465/AME.2002.7173665
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