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Ron Shewchuk

It's true, Sue. There's a big distinction between senior leaders and front line managers, who often are the ones who bear the brunt of problems in an organization -- they get to be the meat in the sandwich, as the saying goes.

As for CEOs, you're so right. It's scary how much the top person influences the tone of the entire business. The problem is, sometimes the CEO can become so detached from the front line that his or her influence isn't felt as much as it should be. Part of our role as communicators is to help bridge the gap.

Sue Horner

Good points, although I think it's the middle managers who are in the toughest spot. As you say, they are trying desperately to do a decent job, but they are squeezed by pressure from above to perform and pressure from below to stop the madness of too much work often caused by too vigorous downsizing.

Regarding management style, it often seems to flow from the top. If the CEO is a good communicator and is concerned about his/her people following the same model, it will happen. It's the old "what gets measured gets done" philosophy.

Ron Shewchuk

You're so right, Dave. And a lot of the time what we see as ego or arrogance is the outward sign of someone who is acting out of fear or a lack of confidence. Managers are often motivated by self-preservation, working against anything that is percieved as a threat to their power or position.

And, as you point out, some of it is just plain common decency -- having the thoughtfulness and courtesy to recognize employee achievments, give positive feedback or loosen the reins and give some autonomy to others.

But for managers to give their people support, they must feel supported themselves. I think managers often feel as neglected and marginalized as the employees who they opress.

Dave Traynor

Good ideas Ron. I've found that one of the biggest barriers to effective team management is ego. Great managers, in my experience, are not afraid to let their team members be the stars. But all too often, managers want to obscure the accomplishments of team members or worse, take ownership of the results and present it to senior management as their own work. It's not a good long-term strategy.

I know it sounds cheesy, but I do believe that good manners go a long, long way towards solving a lot of these situations. Good manners and common sense. They really do work.

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