Mindless, Zombie-Like, Brain Dead Management– They Sound Normal, Act Normal: But Just Walking Dead…

All too often management is out of touch with their own– organization, customers, markets, workers, competition, partners… they are ineffective, incompetent… and phrases like ‘brain dead’, ‘zombie’, ‘same old, same old’, ‘total lack of creativity’… are being used to describe them…

According to Gordy Curphy, Robert Hogan; incompetent or brain dead management in most organizations is estimated to be at least 50%… According to Mike Myatt; it’s important to realize that just because someone holds a position of leadership, doesn’t necessarily mean they should– not all leaders are created equal– problem many organizations suffer is recognition of good leaders from ‘brain dead’ ones…

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According to Randy Conley; many leaders have fallen victim to the brain dead (zombie) plague… organizations should be alert for the symptoms, e.g.; management that does the minimum amount of work required to keep the organization afloat… they stop pushing the boundaries to innovate and fail to adapt to the new realities of the marketplace… they are content with doing the– same ‘ol, same ‘ol… They waste energy focusing on all the reasons why something can’t be done rather than working to find solutions… They’re often heard saying; Why change? That’s the way its always been done around here…

According to Umair Haque: when you think of human achievement in the 21st century, the kind of soaring ambition and deep, world-shaking creativity that produces– art, cathedrals, symphonies– stuff of enduring, elevating value– it’s in tragically short supply… Perhaps that’s why for many workers– ‘work’ is very– dull, drab, meaningless. According to Juan Antonio Samaranch; brain dead leaders lack the will and/or skill to sustain effective action and resist creating positive change; brain dead leaders are usually supported by brain dead followers– the managers and workers who ignore or discount the warning signs and let bad leadership linger are just as brain dead…

 In the article Care and Feeding of Leader’s Brain by Sharon McDowell-Larsen writes: In business, brain power wins the day, not horsepower. The ability to think, communicate, exhibit emotional intelligence, creativity… and yet, if you were to design a lifestyle that is the antithesis of good cognitive function and long-term brain health, the life of an average executive would come pretty close… Consider the human brain– it’s the crown jewel…

Scientists have learned more about brain in last 10 years than in all previous centuries combined. Yet it remains for all intents and purposes, it’s a deep mystery: Weighing in at just three pounds, it consumes 15% of our total cardiac output, 20% of total oxygen consumption and 25% of total glucose use… When the brain is fully working, it uses more energy per unit of tissue weight than fully exercising quadriceps… The brain is the seat of intelligence, emotion, memory, behaviors… and yet for many in management the brain seems to stop working– they become incompetent, ineffective… mindless and brain dead…

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In the article Business is Brain-Dead by Umair Haque writes: Management is brain dead; as a result many organizations undergo a slow, barely perceptible but wholly pernicious death… It’s literally true– too often management has serious cognitive malfunction– it’s an inability to process reality… Many organizations fake-it, there not authentic, perhaps entirely fictional… these organizations are not just– sneaky, cynical, slightly evil, even deceitful; they are downright fakes, entirely imaginary. They might exist as organization, but there’s little or no economic-basis for it… They might exist in the world of bean counters, but they don’t exist in reality; it’s a theory-based entity…

When management is brain dead they have a ‘reality dysfunction’… and the organization becomes a fake– it’s a game– and the fake  is sold to ‘consumers’, and then management gleefully drools over the so-called ‘profit’ that is ‘earned’ (or, extracted)… The point of an organization must be bigger than that– if the sum total of billions of person-hours of brow-mopping effort, vast amounts of human energy, is expended on a game of fake, and the mission of the organization is just to pass fake around… then macroeconomic result is great stagnation– in which the organization’s objective is just to paying one another with fake… it’s management’s failure to understand and eliminate or reduce the real societal issues, such as: pollution, obesity, under-employment, under-education, mistrust, anger, polarization, apathy, lack of fulfillment… the result is systemic crisis after crisis…

Management must wake up– move beyond brain dead– and create organizations that are not founded on fakery, but grounded in harsh realities of 21st century. Organizations that are not fighting against the future of prosperity, but fighting for it. Organizations that endures because they have the wisdom to matter– instead of those that vanishes into the dust bin of economic history, because it was too ‘brain dead’ ever to matter… However, if management’s ambition and breadth of vision is merely to book a ‘profit’, then maybe they should grab a crash helmet, hunker down… because fakery, at best, is a recipe for mediocrity… And worse, it’s recipe for punishment and pain, doled out from increasingly empowered, dissatisfied, fed-up folks… it’s time to get real…

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In the article The Side of Brain Most Important for Management by Lynn White, Esther Newall write: Psychologists have called the rational ‘left brain’, the part of the brain that deals well with logical and analytical thinking… the left-side brain is supposed to be the buttress for modern business management, but it appears that effective management must also involve something more… it must involve the ‘right brain’ and the ‘whole brain’… 21st organizations requires management that relies far more on giving value to– personal connectivity, intuition, insight, emotional intelligence… The old structures are dissolving as organizations increasingly work in– partnerships, alliances, sharing…

Management must move beyond the traditional command and control and develop the ability to manage ‘looser’ business models and operate more effectively within a web of connections and conflicting demands. Organizations are shifting to focus on ‘purpose’ which goes far beyond traditional– profit, maximizing shareholder value motivations… It’s a ‘whole brain’ management approach, and it means: Leaders without vision fail; leaders who lack vision cannot inspire teams, motivate performance, create sustainable value… A leader’s job is to align the organization around a clear, achievable vision– this cannot occur when management is brain dead…

A leader who lacks character or integrity will not endure, and it doesn’t matter how savvy, intelligent, affable, persuasive… if leader is prone to rationalizing unethical behavior, they will eventually fall prey to their own undoing. Optics over ethics is not formula for success. Best leaders are acutely aware of how much they don’t know; they have no need to be smartest person in the room, but have unyielding desire to learn from others… leaders who are not growing cannot lead a growing enterprise. When leader is not fully invested in the team, he/she won’t have a team– at least not an effective one. Never forget the old saying; people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care…

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Leadership absent courage is a farce– not referring to arrogance or bravado, but real courage. It takes courage to break from the norm, challenge the status quo, seek new opportunities, cut losses, make the tough decision, listen rather than speak, admit faults, forgive the faults of others, not allow failure to dampen spirit, stand for those not capable of standing for themselves, and to remain true to core values.

Courage is having strength of conviction to do ‘right thing’ when it would just as easy to ‘do nothing’… When an organization is shy of these traits, you probably have brain dead management…