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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

How I Learned To Be An Effective Manager

A March 3, 2023 article in The Wall Street Journal ("Late to Work? Thank the Transit Union - A labor group in New York blocks a common-sense schedule update") aroused memories. Long ago I was hired as a hospital administrator at a huge, greatly troubled medical center facing bankruptcy which the federal government pressured to change. To say that I was unprepared for this task would be an understatement since I had no managerial experience and the city was historically corrupt. I joked that the local daily newspaper was read to see which of one's friends had been indicted. But I was unemployed and had unexpectedly been offered the post, likely because I wrote a book and had good credentials.

I tried my best, wanting to be a modern enlightened manager, speaking to the union representative in this light and intending for us to work together to improve things. Though congenial, he had none of it. For his workers, the hospital was a great job, they gossiping with each other and doing little else all the working day. Abandoning my warm friendly demeanor, I became a tight-lipped hardass and the setting became professional as I instituted needed education and procedures. I also began getting neck pain by the end of each day, interpreting this well-known symptom of stress as my employees giving me a pain in the neck.

Incidentally, I have no present animus toward unions, having been a member of both the Teamsters and the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), and learning of many incompetent managers and unneeded worker suffering through mine and my patients' experiences.

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When Creative Management Deteriorates Into Paranoia

A newly installed manager's initially successful behavior has the potential to deteriorate into paranoia. Their positive abilities of extreme alertness to business change and goal directedness may descend into rigidity, with delusions of grandeur fostering unrealistic projects and irrational suspicion causing scapegoating, poor morale, and high staff turnover. Having the checks and balances of a conscientous corporate board can enable the needed organization change, protect staff against the abuse of power, and rescue the manager from what Plato described as "convulsive fear and distractions" by forcing them to abide by reality rather than fantasy.

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The Emotionally Cold Leader

While some emotional isolation can help a leader, serving to protect them from involvement in unhealthy regressive employee practices, it can damage too. If too great, it frustrates the normal dependency needs of their staff though the warmth of managers can compensate for this.

In these businesses, it may seem as if no one  Read More 
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When Leaders with a Healthy Obsessive Personality Become Destructive

Though people with severe obsessive-compulsive traits, having a diagnosable disorder, can hinder an organization's operation, these basic characteristics of orderliness, precision, and properly delegating authority, are beneficial in a milder form. Some very successful managers have obsessive-compulsive natures.

Danger arises when the leader has an excessive need for order and control since these demands  Read More 
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Organizational Deterioration Under the Schizoid Manager

Organizational authority is granted a manager because of its needs. To accomplish tasks which it can achieve using the leader's skills and experience. And, recognizing this logic, employees submit to the manager's authority. But during stressful times, a leader's pathological characteristics can emerge such as the schizoid feature of isolation.

Now, the leader isolates  Read More 
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Workplace: The Pathologically Obsessive Boss

Obsessive CEO’s are common since their orderliness and control foster authority and clear decision making. But an excessive need for order can strengthen bureaucratic elements, foster decision-making based on rules rather than staff creativity and autonomy. And while having clear, followed rules can protect against corporate political struggle, it  Read More 
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