Are blue sky managers’ really Transformational leaders?
Blue Sky managers groom their underlings, with the aim to help them spread their wings. But in the process underlings age faster, weaken, fall sick often and lose out on life’s vast array of happiness.
Blue sky management styles challenge the status quo of standard practices; their intent is to liberate underlings from the clutches of structure and allow them reach “full” potential. Such managers are known to be top performers, taking care to be great mentors so that the next in line grow to be the same stature and even replace them. But very few such leaders have actually delivered on their vision. New research has revealed that blue sky managers are really destroying lives in the medium run.
I have worked with one such driven manager. He possessed mind bending vision about the future of enterprise and people management. People around him were highly motivated and excruciatingly dedicated to the cause. However early he called them or however late they sat in office; nothing deterred them. Even weekends were rarely free. Phone calls or ‘home work’ kept the work clock ticking constantly. Such aspirants have paid with the best years of their lives, being crucified at the altar of “perfection” and “dedication”. The working hours were long and arduous, family life or unwinding time-out meant a drink with the boss, his family or other office colleagues and sometimes that included my family as well. It was an incestuous relationship that bred abject adoration or an underlying abject hatred. But afraid to acknowledge anything negative lest they appear to be failures to peers, his underlings developed inward grown feelings that festered.
The core team remains intact after 20 years of being together but their roles hardly changed since the first year on the job. Yes the organisation has grown but the core team hasn’t. Yes the designations are bombastic and the cabins less than in your face, but they’re essentially in the same role for 20 years. A number of ladies, shot way past marriageable age, some mercifully found partners but others sadly didn’t. And I must add they regretted not being hitched when they could have.
In a world that worships success, everyone and his brother are trying everything in the book and elsewhere to succeed. However true growth and development is achieved only when a balance is struck between hard work and the leisure of personal space. Tough ask? Sure. The well-being of corporate employees must therefore be carefully mapped and embedded in highly engaging employee programs. There can be nothing more catastrophic than an over worked individual, who isn’t aware of the fact that he/she is overworked.
The newest research reveals that blue sky managers are actually detrimental to the health and wellness of people within organisations. Especially the newbies, they are easier to fool. Most at risk are the freshers, management interns, first timers, junior and line managers. In their enthusiasm to conform and win brownie points they are all over themselves to show commitment, working late and coming early, neglecting health and family time.
Any manager that places work priorities over scheduled, quality down time is dangerous, however good he/she is at delivering results. Burn outs are a reality, just as real as the young folk who feel they need to learn new skills and move when they are fed up. It’s the blue sky managers’ ability to motivate and convince people to hang on that is appreciated by the company but at what cost? It is both for the HR and individuals to remain alert against the moves of such managers.
I am not for a moment propagating slackening work deadlines and urgency of the task. I am simply asking people to qualify and evaluate; then draw lines. There is no success without smart hard work and there should be no doubts about that. But young lives can’t take a back seat. Else the only option they have is work hard & party hard – the classic burn out recipe.