Feb 9, 201701:02 PMOpen Mic
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Your water privileges will be revoked: A lesson in bad leadership
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Years ago, during a particularly hot and humid summer, I was concerned about people in the factory. So I told the factory supervisor to see to it that plenty of bottled water was on hand.
That seemed to be working well — until someone told me his water “privileges” had been suspended. Now, I wouldn’t consider providing drinking water to employees in a hot factory a privilege. I would consider it an obligation.
When I heard about the “suspension” I was aghast. And when I asked him why, he told me the supervisor would suspend anyone’s water privileges that didn’t drink the whole bottle. Now this is not the stupidest thing I have ever heard of but it is certainly in the top 10 of all time.
Maybe this supervisor thought he could save money if people used a whole bottle instead of several partial bottles. Maybe he was the type who hated waste. Maybe he was a control freak. Maybe he was just a horrible leader. In fact, not a leader at all, but a command and control nut job.
I remember asking him what his rationale was and challenging him on his “privilege” views. And then I dismissed him. You can’t coach a person who thinks water for employees is a privilege. Anyone who feels that way about the people they lead is not a leader at all.
But let’s get to the fundamental question. If he feels that way about water bottles, in what other ways does he treat employees badly? If he feels that way about water bottles, how do employees feel about him? And if they feel that way about him, how productive will they be?
There is an old saying that when a union-free company gets a union, they get the kind of union they deserve. I would revise that a bit to say that leaders who treat employees badly get the kind of employees they deserve. Employees who don’t care. Employees who only do the bare minimum.