Monday, April 2, 2012

PPM Starts at the Top

2012 marks my 50th year in some form of leadership position - school, military, voluntary organisations, business, etc. In that time I've worked for a lot of managers, followed quite a few leaders, and have experienced my own mistakes and successes as a leader. Hopefully I've learned something from them all.

One thing I know I've learned stands out from all the rest. That is:

PPM (Piss Poor Management) starts at the top.

Managers down the line reflect the management that they see as being successful for those at more senior positions. In other words, if a junior level manager sees that senior level managers get promotions and salary increases through bullying or a failure to confront issues or any other behaviour, there is a high probability that this will be reflected in that junior manager's behaviour. (Fortunately the same is also true for good management practices.)

In other words, managers at the top of an organisation set the culture - the behavioural norms - that operate within any organisation.

When I did my PhD research (many years ago now!) it became clear that people join an organisation because they believe that their personal values and those of the organisation are compatible. Most employee separations in the first year occur because either the employee or the employer realise that a mistake was made. For those that survive the first year, the values have either proved to be reasonably compatible or the employee has made changes to fit in with the organisation. By the time a person has been with an organisation for about 5 years there is no significantly discernible distinction between the two sets of values. In other words, whether it is a culture of good management / leadership practices or one of bad management / leadership practices, the employee has adopted the culture of the organisation.


Question: As a leader, what sort of practices do you model to others? If you practice PPM, don't expect your followers to be any different.

Nobody has to be a PPM. Any failure to change is a matter of choice.

I've some more about this at and at

I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Please make your comments below.

More about Doug Long at

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