Today’s excerpt, from the story “The Sell,” focuses on the powerful influence destructive leaders can have on an organization. For more on the book, read this conversation with the authors: reading guide.
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The chairman introduced the speaker with much fanfare. All the physicians in the department, many of them new, had been required by the chairman to attend this talk. It was a “command performance.” Tom, a tenured basic scientist, was also there and sat and listened to the speaker deliver his talk. The speaker described the medical center and how he envisaged the department would interface with the center and how this relationship building and corporatization would make the department more profitable and competitive.
As he spoke, Tom realized that a continuous strand unifying his talk was how wonderful the present were, how superb the department was, and how by comparison inept and “bad” other departments like surgery were. The speaker made a number of comparisons where the department was portrayed as looking good compared to the other clinical departments that were said to be inept, selfish, unreliable, and possessing a number of other negative qualities.
As his talk proceeded, Tom found himself becoming increasingly ill at ease with this approach. In paying attention to his thoughts and feelings, he was beginning to wonder why he was so upset and angry. He eventually realized that he felt that he and those present were being blatantly seduced. The constant flattery seemed to be leading everyone present to becoming ensnared in a trap the speaker was setting. Tom had a gnawing sense that what the speaker was advocating would hurt the department. When he finished his talk, the audience politely applauded. The speaker invited everyone to ask questions. Tom could hardly restrain himself.
THE DYSFUNCTIONAL WORKPLACE
Theory, Stories, and Practice
Seth Allcorn and Howard F. Stein
ISBN: 978-0-8262-2065-3 • Hardcover • 220 pp. • 6 x 9