The Addiction of Management


Many people have asked me the following question:  What is the most difficult thing related to the role of being appointed head of an organisation?

 My answer has taken many by surprise.  The most difficult things to achieve in this role are two‑fold: 

  • To be appointed to the role in first place
  • To manage upwards, especially when the Chairman of the Board has acted as an executive Chair rather than a true Chairman.

The great difficulty facing any person appointed to the role of this nature is the distinct possibility of them becoming addicted to the role by:  acting like a manager and not a leader; changing a few things quickly; then creating a new status quo; then coasting for the next few years; and becoming addicted to the role.

 Why does this happen?  There are a number of reasons that contribute to this:

1.       Having subordinates

What is it like being a boss?  What is it like being a subordinate?  Which do you prefer?  If you are a boss then people understand that you are more important than them.  They are more dispensable than you and will be the first to go if needed.

2.       The position itself

The influence, the sense of achievement, the prestige of a position and the accompanying perks can all lead to addiction because they feed a sense of prestige which can become addictive.  When this is accompanied by arrogance you can tell that the person is addicted.

 3.       Control

When anyone has power and control, this combination can be addictive.  It can produce a feeling of omnipotence.  Why do you think it is so hard to develop a team culture and to empower others?  The answer lays in the fact that power and control will not be easily given up by those who are addicted to them.

4.       Money

Money is addictive also.  The one way organisations have aided and abetted this is by rewarding people who control others with more money.  People who are ambitious will do what it takes to move up in the organisation to get rewards that are disproportionably big.  Why not reward others as deserving of parallel salary levels because of their contribution?

5.       Management mindset

The managerial mindset is focussed on preserving the status quo supported by a conservative board.  This, in itself, will prevent great achievement and become habitual quite often.  What do these habitual patterns of thinking produce?  Many things, including:  short-term thinking, a linear view of the world, short-term panacea solutions; and a lack of vision, passion, commitment and competence.

In the end, Managers who are addicted to their position add little value.  The consult a lot, speak a lot, but change little and create little value.  Why?  Because the focus is on inputs and not outputs.  Also because when managers are addicted to what comes with the position, like any addiction, they focus on feeding that habit and want more, and this will cause them to lose sight of why they got the position in the first place.  The results are living a life of pretence, merely going through the motions and not being truly successful, not being able to lead themselves or anyone else.