Written on 11 October 2011.

12 young middle-managers. A standard exercise to start the course. They make a note of two or three problems that occur on a daily basis. Two-thirds of these managers identify the same issue: How can you announce a decision without it being rejected and, above all, without having to assert your "authority"?  

1) Decision-making has a strong connection with authority; good perception because at some point a decision must be taken.

But in the students' comments, it appears that an authority figure is more credible at a higher level of management.


2) The role of manager is limited to man-management! It is difficulty to preserve the friendly relationship necessary to manage individuals with a "stricter" authority.


3) The words - and therefore, the reality - do not seem to match: orders/instructions. These words seem to be contrary to the context of dialogue/negotiation that is disseminated in our organisations. They seem to be mutually exclusive!


4) The search for a consensus is based on a friendly atmosphere, which excludes certain attitudes. The real issue is that, without a certain distance, inexperienced managers can fall into a downward spiral of friendliness, consensus, comfort, conformism, and resistance to change.


5) Authority only appears in the pallet of reactions if their own situation is questioned by one of the members of their team: Attitude, criticism, or desire to assert a position with respect to management.


6) This climate relating to authority explains why employees are manipulated in many different ways to find a solution. Practices - different from techniques (?) - facilitate realization/adherence, which replace acceptance/obedience. That's how NUDGE works; the idea is to give people a little shove to help them change their behaviour and make the right choices.   

These techniques, which originated in particular during the last American presidential campagne, create a context and a material preparation that enable people to choose the right option themselves. Towards Nudge management?

Leadership Focus, June 2011

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