Leadership is just another word for evil..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Thursday, January 6, 2011 9:30 AM
There's a natural limit to how happy a person can be at work.

If work becomes fun, your boss will stop paying you to do it and start charging other people to have that fun in your place. So let's agree that work has to be a little bit unpleasant, at least for most people.

Still, despite this unpleasantness, many people have a feeling called job satisfaction. My theory is that your degree of job satisfaction is largely a function of who you blame for the necessarily unpleasant job you have.

If you blame yourself, that's when cognitive dissonance sets in and your brain redefines your situation as "satisfied."

To do otherwise would mean you deliberately keep yourself in a bad situation for no good reason, assuming you believe you have options. Your brain likes to rationalize your actions to seem consistent with the person you believe you are.

The assumption that you have better options and the freedom to pursue them is essential to the illusion of job satisfaction. As long as you believe, incorrectly, that pleasant jobs exist elsewhere, and are yours for the taking, you have to rationalize why you don't go out and get one.

And the best reason your brain can concoct is that you must be satisfied right where you are, against all evidence to the contrary. To believe otherwise means defining yourself as lazy, scared, or incapable. Your brain doesn't like that option.

I first noticed this during the Dotcom era. In those years, when people came to believe, incorrectly, that the common person could go start his own Google, everyone I asked seemed to have job satisfaction.

In other words, employees blamed themselves for being in their putrid situations. They believed themselves capable of great things, so they rationalized that their current jobs must be satisfying already.

The situation was the very opposite in the early nineties, when big companies were downsizing and it seemed as though employees didn't have many options.

If you got fired by company A, you couldn't get hired by company B because they too were downsizing. Employees felt trapped. They blamed management for their woes.

If my theory is true, the best way to make your employees feel a false sense of job satisfaction is to somehow convince them that there are much better jobs elsewhere.

For example, you could subscribe all employees to entrepreneur magazines that are full of stories about people who left their unsatisfying jobs to become millionaires.

If you instill the false belief that better careers are obtainable, cognitive dissonance will cause the employees that have high self-esteem to believe they must enjoy their current jobs.

Sadly, leadership is just another word for evil.

2 Response to "Leadership is just another word for evil.."

  1. shivani Says:

    Tandarin that was very interesting. Your theory sounds very convincing but really can you explain then why the attrition rate in certain jobs is very high. Is it only the pay packets that is responsible or is it that the leader not evil enough ?
    BTW if i told you i had to google on the term "Cognitive Dissonace' will you get put off with me?
    Anyways googling gladdened my heart to know that it is just some psychological jargon for that, Angoor nahin mile hain toh khatte hain syndrome.:)
    Thanks for i learnt yet again.

  2. Tandarin Nike Says:

    Thank Shivani for your lovely comment. Attrition rate is extremely high no doubt and the reasons are many. Primarily because of the materialistic world that we live in. Salaries are ever increasing for the genuine specialists in every field while the bosses can no longer be evil beyond a point. It’s a catch 22 situation.
    ‘Cognitive Dissonance is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time’. I have been going through this since last two years on my job and am unable to really understand the word job satisfaction anymore. I wobble between more than satisfied most of the times against total detest sometimes. You can probably now see the reason why my posts too wobble from time to time.

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