Bosses Can Be Asses, Too

Ingenuity and resourcefulness are two key components to creating a motivating, constantly improving work environment. Author, speaker and consultant on Lean Healthcare Methodology, Mark Graber examines what happens when creativity is squelched in his blog, Jerks Can Be Creativity Killers, Alright.

Leadership touts using innovation and celebrates new ideas ‘in theory’ but in actuality, becomes a complete micromanager. Graber discusses Norm Bodek’s idea that “…everybody is creative… we just get it drummed out of us by school and the workplace. As Dr. Deming taught, intrinsic motivation can only go DOWN over time… an organization can only hope to not de-motivate people and I’d assume there’s a corollary that you can only avoid making people less creative – you can’t make them more creative.”

Quoting a statistic from Fast Company: Is Your Manager A Creativity Killer? Graber makes an interesting point: “A recent study shows that 64% of bosses say they inspire creativity; just 41% of their employees agree.”

With such low statistics on the same page as management, Graber looks at 3 case studies based on the FC article:

  1. You have a manager, described as “an ass,” whose behavior (shouting and browbeating) doesn’t live up their inspirational quote about “creativity takes courage.”
  2. A manager who gives a pep talk about brainstorming big ideas… and then violates basic brainstorming rules by shouting down every idea.
  3. An organization with an online suggestion box where the manager would read “the stupidest ones” to a friend over the phone. Yup, that will kill an improvement program.

At the end of Mark Graber’s blog, he ponders an excellent question, How can leaders be that unaware of the impact of their behavior on their employees and their organizations?

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