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by James Waldroop Ph.D.
and Timothy Butler Ph.D.

Directors of MBA Career Development at the Harvard Business School. Twenty years relevant experience. Business Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Executive Coaches to many Fortune 500 companies, helping individuals work to their highest level of potential.

Ch. 3. The Heroic Slavedriver

FAILURE BEHAVIOR 3: DOING TOO MUCH, PUSHING TOO HARD. You, the heroic slavedriver, compulsively do too much, push too hard - not only yourself but all your reports. Nothing is ever enough. You're always calling for more or better or faster - obsessively. And you're often oblivious to it. The unattainable motivates you, not money.

IDENTIFY IT: People will not work for you. You stress people to 'burn-out'.  Talented people leave the company. They realize they are going to be driven into the ground if they don't get out. The pattern shows over time. Word spreads.

Routine upward feedback performance evaluations will identify you.

FIX IT: Do not eliminate this behavior pattern, - which is highly rewarded and therefore strongly reinforcing - moderate it.  Don't turn off, just judiciously 'ease off the throttle'. Assign an assistant the responsibility to act as an observer and feedback provider who tells you immediately when you go over the top.

Some can not change. This behavior is their way of life. They work incessantly. That is the way they normally function. They may best be encouraged to operate as self-employed independent contractors.

BENEFIT: This behavior pattern, when properly modified, has great potential for enormous career success. The heroic slavedriver is highly valuable and very successful in many industries, particularly where machinery rather than people are the key assets of the company or where brawn is more important than brains. Where the company's assets are primarily intellectual, that is, people, it is even more important that you understand others. When you do then you and your group become even higher performance people.

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Ch. 4: The 'Spineless' Peacekeeper

FAILURE BEHAVIOR 4: AVOIDING CONFLICT AT ANY COST. You, the phobic argument-avoider, out of fear and compulsion, either always or occasionally, suppress your feelings and are determined to avoid conflict at any cost. But first-rate business requires you to put forward, and strongly support, good ideas and initiatives, to criticize bad ones, to argue your case, to stand up for your people and for yourself, to resolve problems and conflicts and thereby to make progress. To do otherwise is to damage all by default - by not doing what you should do.

Even worse, this behavior can become the norm in a group or in a company - its culture -  discouraging open expression of conflict and disagreement, promoting the art of hushing things up. With disastrous consequences.

IDENTIFY IT: That's easy. Your behavior is explicit, overt, obvious in your dealings with clients, managers, team-leaders, peers and subordinates. It becomes all the more easily observable as you progress to mid-career, when you know what you're talking about, and should  speak up about what you know about.

FIX IT: That's not easy. You dread what you feel deep down will be the result of conflict: the damage to, or loss of, a relationship with others. Your phobia of conflict is not logical: nobody can reason with you. So begin the behavior change process with an easy conflict. Make goods or service complaints in your own personal life. Then find a colleague at work whose ability to deal with conflict you admire. Pay great attention to her ways of dealing with disagreement. And how she professionally resumes business and work relations, talking with all parties involved a few hours afterwards. Script a conversation that you subsequently use in such an instance. And report back to her afterwards to discuss your progress. Repeat. These gradual steps will systematically desensitize you to your phobia, each step making you a little stronger, more confident, less frightened.

BENEFIT: Anger, and its management, are part of business. 'Peace at any price' is too expensive. By mid-career you have gained enormous experience. To achieve your own full potential, to become a higher performance person, and in so doing progress the company, you must treat your phobia. Not easy - but well worth while.

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