Why Your Boss is Programmed to be a Dictator

It's becoming increasingly rare to see an organization where challenging a decision of another colleague - especially a boss - is seen as a positive and where information is shared in an open, receptive manner.

Many of us have experienced the horrors of a bad boss and the kind of nervousness, fear and paranoia in the workplace that it can result in.

Even strong, confident people can become compliant and unquestioning when stepping through the threshold of the office into the world of a bad boss.

This leads to a question not often asked: why do these situations happen so often? With no correlation between the organizations in question or the focus of their business, what's going on? Do the people with the worst traits, who instil fear into their workers naturally rise to the top, or is it something else?

Why Your Boss is Programmed to be a Dictator takes an extra step back from similar books that look at the problems of bad bosses, looking at the bigger picture and giving thoughtful, articulate insight into the root causes of why such negative working environments and behaviours exist.

As Chetan Dhruve says himself, this isn't another look at "how to deal with a bad boss" or "how to become a better boss", instead it approaches these problems using "Systems Thinking" - the idea that the component parts of any system will behave differently when isolated from its environment, and that the environment itself effects those components.

By looking at the failings in the system rather than the individual, Dhruve attacks the cause of behavioural problems in the workplace rather than the symptoms. Seeing an organization as a collection of individuals Dhruve tackles how to improve leadership and management skills within the context they are applied.

After analyzing how the environment of a business has such a massive impact in dictating how a manager operates, Dhruve begins to untangle which problems can be attributed to the individual and which are rooted in the system.

Picking out relevant case studies and examples (often from some unlikely sources, including two space shuttle disasters, a plane collision and the current war in Iraq), Dhruve carefully explains the reasons why even the nicest, friendliest and seemingly normal people can become dictator-like bosses when introduced into a system that is perfectly suited to a bad boss, and how detrimental and unproductive a fear-based workplace such as this can be.

The explanations as to why we have such a wealth of bad bosses become almost shockingly obvious once approached from the angle of systems thinking. What's even more shocking is how the problems Dhruve highlights are so rarely talked about.

But as he points out, ingrained into us is the drive to never criticise a boss – even disagreement with a decision is often seen as verging on criticism – and people would rather leave than confront or criticise.

Dhruve is particularly adept at metaphors that clearly show how altering a working environment to one where asking questions and challenging the decisions of others is as beneficial as it is possible.

With so many companies struggling to create a more innovative, inspiring, and successful workplace, Why Your Boss is Programmed to be a Dictator reveals innovative solutions that have had little mention in the current business books on offer.

Dan Geary