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7 Neurotic Styles of Management


This is a new point of view to discuss styles of management, I think you’ll like it!

1. The Explosive
2. The Implosive
3. The Abrasive
4. The Narcissist
5. The Apprehensive
6. The Compulsive
7. The Impulsive

7 Neurotic Styles of Management

1. Explosive
– Management Style: Moody, destabilizing
– Orientation Toward Others: Don’t get in my way.
– Expect Work Done: The manager’s way

Managers with explosive styles are easily dominated by their immediate feelings of frustration. They may appear mild mannered, but they lapse into explosive seizures when they feel blocked. Co-workers tend to describe such managers as moody and emotional. Such leaders’ judgment is influenced by exaggerated perceptions and the loss of control of situations. They become unable to problem solve effectively and instead personalize problems and become aggressive in pushing others for solutions. Explosives are neither effective problem solvers nor strategists. They tend to personalize problems. In a rush to deal with their boiled up frustrations, they lose their sensibility and act out without clear, strategic thinking. When confronting a difficult situation, the explosive may burst into a tirade and suspend strategic assessment of the situation. It takes time to simmer down an explosive manager and to help him/her gain insight into the nature of the problem and its solution. Even when the problem is identified, the explosive may have difficulty generating effective solutions.

2. Implosive
– Management Style: Passive-aggressive
– Orientation Toward Others: Don’t let me down.
– Expect Work Done: The manager’s way

Implosives exhibit an obverse style similar to that of the explosive. Explosives outwardly exhibit their short temper, while implosives retreat into themselves and keep their feelings of frustration inside. The style is also known as passive-aggressive. They implode and sulk, wallowing in their anger. They may stop interacting with co-workers, ignore them, or act coldly toward them. Similar to explosives, implosives require time for their feelings of frustration, anger, and hurt to diminish in intensity and to be extinguished. These quiet explosives are hard to predict and work with. Their defenses are deeply rooted and not easy to get at—especially when the person does not own the dysfunctional nature underlying the behavior and is unwilling to learn and change. They keep to themselves and store their resentments, and when a threshold is reached, they take quiet action to get even. The action might involve little confrontation but through indirect means, including third parties’ negative actions toward the target recipient.

Implosives tend not to forget or forgive, both of which would be their salvation. They hold long-term grudges and escalate irrational thinking about what has disappointed them. As a result, an Implosive’s action has an element of surprise for the recipients of his/her behavior. The action might come after a significant time lag, thereby confusing the recipient who might not have any clues regarding why they are subjected to neurotic negative treatment. Indirect talk, avoidance of direct action, conflict avoidance and triangulation of conversations and actions through third parties are some symptoms of the implosive style.

3. Abrasive
– Management Style: Superior, emasculating
– Orientation Toward Others: No one is good enough.
– Expect Work Done: Always better

Abrasive managers often view themselves as high achievers: knowledgeable, analytical, and professionally competent. Dominated by a need for perfection and thoroughness, they push themselves on others and view others as less adequate. Levinson observes that abrasives want to do the job by themselves, finding it difficult to lean on others who they feel will not meet their standards.[7]

When there are errors and mistakes, abrasives are quick to criticize and find an opportunity to undercut others. They are comfortable with red flagging fact-based issues and with uncovering performance shortfalls that others are reluctant to bring up. This zeal for rigor and high standards often manifests itself in a posture of arrogance and insensitivity toward others.

Abrasives’ aspirations of high standards (actual or claimed) combined with their competitive needs give them a perceived license to justify acting abrasively. Their intense drive for performance creates an evaluative environment of measurement and performance. However, abrasives arouse feelings of inadequacy in others. They justify their mistreatment of others by maintaining that targeted persons deserved such action. They shrug off the negative consequences of their actions by attributing them to others’ inadequacies or lack of professionalism. Abrasives tend to withhold rewards unless employee performance is exemplary. Organizations dominated by an abrasive management will experience high people burnout and turnover. Employees will experience lowered feelings of self-efficacy and self-confidence. The abrasive’s victims realize that no matter how hard they work, more is expected. Good is not enough; it can always be better.

4. Narcissistic
– Management Style: Self-aggrandizing – What’s in it for me?
– Orientation Toward Others: Are they useful to me?
– Expect Work Done: Benefits the manager

Relaxed and cool-headed, narcissists may choose to pay homage to teamwork, cooperation, and strategic management processes. However, closer observation of their styles reveals that they are preoccupied with an image of self grandiosity as they strive to fulfill their ascendancy needs by emerging from each situation more influential, well-off, and satisfied—although at the expense of the organization and others. It is hard to get to know narcissists. They take cover in superficial pleasantries and self-aggrandizing stories that embellish their image. They tend to view others as means and instruments to be used. They pursue their self interests and compete fiercely to receive approval, visibility, and influence in the pursuit of their goals.

Narcissistic leaders can be charming to others, but they privately have little genuine interest in other people except with regard to how others can be used. They relate to new associates with thoughts of how such people can be useful to them. They portray the image of a winner, but fear being labeled a loser. Narcissists feel comfortable using seductive tactics to make others succumb to their wishes. When self-serving opportunities are scant, a narcissist stays aloof and distant, but as soon as opportunities present themselves, narcissists become engaging and involved.

Narcissists strive to be associated with important, resourceful people—including powerful leaders and important customers—so as to use them as means and devices for their own self-fulfillment. Narcissists make decisions for purposes of personal social and economic benefit, and they interact only if such behavior coincides with the narcissist’s self interest. Narcissists are cool and calculating in their self-centered approach to life, and they avoid encumbering themselves with social or other obligations that do not serve their interests. As executives they influence organization goals and processes to serve their self-interests, even if costly.

5. Apprehensive
– Management Style: Watchful, defending “turf”
– Orientation Toward Others: No one can be trusted.
– Expect Work Done: Very cautiously

The apprehensive style is secretive, self protective, and cautious. The apprehensive manager expects the worse and prepares for it by watching for hidden messages and agendas in what people say and do. They are defensive and can be antagonistic. They have low trust in others and believe that even words spoken in confidence may be revealed, thereby compromising themselves and causing trouble. Their paranoid style compels them to watch closely their employees, who typically view such leaders as controlling and watchful.

Apprehensive style is closed. It confines and prevents interactions. Information is managed centrally and communicated carefully and selectively. It is detrimental to the firm’s growth, innovation, and long-term prosperity. The style feeds on itself. As group performance and situations deteriorate, the apprehensive manager’s behavior becomes more controlling, secretive, defensive, and untrusting.

Apprehensive managers tend to distrust the new, creative, and novel. They are comfortable with the familiar and surround themselves with compliant yes-type followers who communicate favorable news, thus assuring the manager that all is well. Apprehensives live in a world of fear and distrust. When market share and profits decline, apprehensives blame and fire other people and establish tighter reins. Missing are their abilities to look for new opportunities and to create and develop new approaches to ignite employee enthusiasm and lift employees’ spirits.

6. Compulsive
– Management Style: Tunneled, unswerving
– Orientation Toward Others: Get them focused.
– Expect Work Done: Repeatedly, precisely

Compulsive managers have a one-track and rigid mindset. Compulsives are often preoccupied with the details of a given activity and may disregard other important aspects of their job. They tunnel and narrow the scope of their everyday concerns to a limited set of controllable variables, which then become the main focus of their actions. Their pattern of behavior is predictable and repetitive.

Compulsives’ tunneled preoccupation is counter to effective strategic management of the whole enterprise. The style can lead to oversight of vital emerging strategic issues and to over commitment to specific courses of action that often run counter to strategic thinking and management. Excessive concerns and overemphasis of narrow sets of outcomes, such as market share, can be self defeating. This kind of unwavering preoccupation with one set of issues in absence of considering the whole picture is a prescription for failure. Not only are resources misallocated and opportunities bypassed, but this compulsive style is also accompanied by confusion that impedes formation of a rational approach to management.

Once compulsives commit to a task or direction, it becomes difficult to disengage them. With their unwavering management style, compulsives tend to escalate commitment to actions which may even be failing and no longer viable. Voices of reason go unheard. Their intense sense of responsibility and commitment to completing tasks overshadow and obscure the more strategic and value-adding initiatives that lead to greater strategic pay offs.

7. Impulsive
– Management Style: Rule “de jour,” flippant
– Orientation Toward Others: Change for change’s sake.
– Expect Work Done: Facetiously

Impulsives take abrupt actions that are often unplanned and unanticipated. This arbitrary, impulsive behavior runs counter to strategic management processes. It creates distractions, unpredictability and confusion. Such unplanned change accompanied by impulsive action may seem flippant to others who must make unanticipated adjustments to deal with such behavior. Experience for experience’s sake is the impulsive’s life orientation.

Impulsives view strategic thinking, strategy development and its implementation as time and resource consuming. They reason that in a changing world one should take quick actions. They enjoy the freedom of taking action, which offers them a sense of power and determination. They underestimate the inevitable failures that often follow hasty decisions and uncalculated actions. The integration of impulsive action with organizational agenda, performance, and career goals is conflictive and stressful, if not counter-productive. When change is unplanned and performance criteria change without sufficient reason, organizations’ and employees’ plans are undermined. The unplanned change is haphazard, annoying, and threatening. It leads to disruption in organizations. It is psychologically taxing and creates feelings of powerlessness and resentment among employees.

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