This book can be purchased at: http://ijgbooks.com/weeding.html
Today lets take a look at Chapter 3 “Empathy and Sympathy – Know the difference”.
This chapter is about a special kind of ineffective leader that I call “An empty suit”. You would think that this type of person would need a large organization to hide in , but I have worked with empty suits in smaller organizations as well.
These people are not dumb, in fact they are very skilled at convincing others that they are effective leaders. What makes these people empty suits is that they sympathize without actually doing anything. They make you feel good but your situation is exactly the same before and after talking to them.
I believe that this is what Ibrahim is talking about when he writes the following.
On page 47 Ibrahim writes:
“Management, at all levels, is about leadership and the ability to translate strategy into meaningful actions to one’s team. Not being accountable for the organization’s actions is clearly sympathy with the employees that achieves no higher purpose, and can actually destroy the core fabric of the organization”
Ibrahim then goes on to break sympathizers down into different types. The “Clueless Sympathizer” he describes on page 49 as:
“Clueless sympathizers know what is important, but they cannot make a decision or trust people. It’s a bit of arrogance on their part to conclude that “if we don’t get it, then it can’t be the way forward.” “
I have definitely witnessed this in several different forms. Ibrahim goes on to talk about Empathy as a lost art. He suggests that Empathy is understanding and feeling with the end goal of making the world a better place. I suspect that there is enough material here to write another book. In many cases we empathize but are not in a position to effect change. If you try to effect change and you are not in the right position to do so, you may be labeled as difficult to work with and find yourself in the unemployment line.
Ibrahim sums up this chapter in his usual fashion with a couple of clear points.
“So if you get a lot of ear and not action, your manager is a first class wanker.
If you are told that this is the way it is with no explanation, your manager is an even bigger wanker”
An so ends chapter three. Before reading this book, I had no idea what a wanker was. Now I not only know they exist, I have been able to explain why I have been frustrated by past colleagues. I realized that there was something wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. In some ways, when I did narrow it down, I thought it was all me. I’m still not completely convinced that it wasn’t at least partly my fault but it is nice to know that others have seen the same things.
I picked this one up just because of the title, but it was a fascinating read that I have to get back to. My cover is a bit different, but that could be just the difference between the Canadian and American version.
Maybe I’ll have a go at this book next, but for the time being, lets continue to listen to what Ibrahim has to say.