Kaur Thoughts

Do You Recognise Arrogance of Authority?

Posted 27th February 2012

A friend of mine emailed me the following (apparently true) story on “Arrogance of Authority”

As funny as this story is, it reminds me of what I often see in organisations where managers in responsible positions are so focussed on doing their job well, that they become oblivious to things, that if addressed would improve their overall performance and efficiency. Improvements are suggested all the time but managers are not engaging.

These managers grow unreceptive to new ideas or small changes because they religiously adhere to processes as instructed and lose sight of the important stuff. The important stuff includes why they are in the business in the first place and what the business vision and goals are.

It is not the manager’s fault, as they often work in organisations that compel them to cram more work in less time, meet demanding target indicators and have their performance challenged in annual appraisals. They unintentionally block out any form of communication that might help them because their experience tells them that they know better and in any case they have not got time. They have not even realised what their behaviour in the work place is conveying about them and the organisation’s culture. After a while the suggestions stop coming.

However, it does pay for these same managers to step back occasionally, be open minded and invite feedback from people they interact with at all levels. Someone will often try and tell them something that will make their job easier or more efficient, someone may want to share an innovative idea or someone may simply want to share their experience. Managers need to make time for these people, who are helping them. Managers need to openly engage to continually improve.Here is an example of someone in authority who learnt the hard way why it is important to engage with people regardless of anything else. Enjoy the story…

The Arrogance of Authority

A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas, and talked with an old rancher. He told the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs.”

The rancher said, “Okay, but don’t go in that field over there…..”, as he pointed out the location.

The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, “Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me!”

Reaching into his rear pants pocket, he removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher.

“See this badge?! This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish…. On any land!!

No questions asked or answers given!! Have I made myself clear……do you understand?!!”

The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by the rancher’s big Santa Gertrudis bull……

With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he’d sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.

The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs…..

“Your badge. Show him your BADGE…….. ! !”

The lesson to be learnt is – never ignore the small guy.

Listen, listen and listen

Engage with your staff, stakeholders and customers. If you stop listening, people will stop engaging, when that happens….well, showing your badge won’t help!