Cracking the Syndrome

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.

—Indira Ghandi

WITH A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING of the common dysfunction found in the dynamic with bosses and subordinates, we are now ready to intervene and try to interrupt the set-up-to-fail syndrome. We’ll explore a number of concrete actions bosses can take to be proactive in reversing the syndrome. To illustrate the general principles involved in the process, we present a real-life situation involving two people we met during our research: Steve, a subordinate, and Jeff, his boss. Steve and Jeff’s situation is an excellent example of how misperceptions and wrong attributions can create a downward performance spiral that once it is put into motion is difficult ...

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