Transformational Leadership

Facing Workplace Disharmony

Kate Loving Shenk asked:

ying up the books beside our bed recently and saw a book my husband Tom was reading: “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stoudt, Ph.D.

I remembered reading that book several years ago during a particularly traumatic time I was experiencing with my boss.

Sure enough, Tom was grappling with a boss who was singling him out for public ridicule.

Over my twenty three work history, I had three bosses who seemed to be insane. After dealing repeatedly with their psychotic behavior, screaming and yelling at me and others in front of patients, or pulling me into their office for some sort of half baked improvement plan strategy, I know now, in retrospect, that all three of these people were and maybe still are–sociopaths.

I have a theory. The brilliant books on Emotional and Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, have created a backlash in the workplace at large here in America.

These books explain the necessity for respect, camaraderie and a social/emotional IQ that people can develop, if they are so motivated.

When the books first came out, I thought they would transform the workplace with great change towards a new paradigm of workplace liberation.

I thought these books would single handedly help people to transform their perspective and help them to at least become more aware of who they are in this life time.

While buying Goleman’s latest book, “Social Intelligence,” copyright 2006, last week at Border’s, I asked the gentleman helping me to find the book, what he thought of my theory: that the Emotional Intelligence books have created a workplace environment that can only be described as backlash directly because of the ideas presented in the books.

The Border’s employee agreed with my assessment. We got into a spirited discussion about his experience as an educator.

He said that fifteen years ago, he was a public school administrator with freedom to implement programs that were good for the children, helping them to think, puzzle through solutions to problems, and fostering artistic expression.

As time went on, the “higher ups” put a stop to many of the programs that he personally helped to start.

He said that by the time he retired from the Public School system, and I’m sure “no child left behind” was a contributing factor, the schools were at best factories, at worst prisons, that suppressed creativity and innovation among the students.

My husband, Tom, works in Alternative Education, or Alt Ed. He tells me that the children are fed the same dry and unimaginative lessons plans year after year which they can’t comprehend, due to their learning disabilities.

Tom tells me that these lesson plans are an extreme example of lack of creativity which does nothing to foster self-esteem and social skills.

Tom’s sociopathic boss is neurotic about paper work and seems to think that this is the most important part of the education of these students.

She also has no concept of good nutrition. If a child behaves, this woman believes in rewarding them with candy and a soda.

Then she takes away their activity period after they go bonkers on the sugar.

Why do people like this have zero common sense?

Why do people like us have to endure their stupidity and insanity?

Besides the fact that difficult people can be the catalyst for spiritual growth!

Business, Health Care and Education are all dictated to by Corporate powers here in America. The lack of empathy that trickles down from the very top where the bottom line is always about money, is what teachers, nurses, law enforcement and business people must face on the front lines.

But what if every leader saw their employees as their customers? And these customers are to be served, loved and understood?

Studies show that bosses who listen and empathize with their employees have a harmonious work force where retention is achieved because people want to be there and actually want to show up!!

Bosses who create a resonance between themselves and their employees are successful leaders. A give and take is created whereby when difficult situations arise, the team comes together to solve the problem.

Studies show that when people like the boss, productivity rises and so does the time a person stays on the job.

Goleman says that “people don’t want to work for a toxic boss at any wage except to save enough “screw you” money to quit with security.

“Socially intelligent leadership starts with being fully present and getting in sync. Once a leader is engaged, then the full panoply of social intelligence can come into play, from sensing how people feel and why, to interacting smoothly enough to move people into a positive state.”

The dysfunctional bosses I once had and Tom now has resorts to yelling and screaming, throwing papers and eye rolling to show disdain and frustration.

These toxic emotions are contagious.

So are the positive emotions elicited from respect, civility and kindness.

Camaraderie and harmony in the workplace is what I have always strived for. When it falters, as it has for Tom, and at times for me, and obvious abuse is dolled out everyday to teachers, or nurses and whom ever else, then I say, file a grievance.

And send these people back to the Psychiatric Hospital where they belong.

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