“The workplace is a dictatorship”

Posted: 7 June 2016 in Uncategorized
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Vivek Wadhwa begins by quoting a former employee:

“The Soviet Union I left behind was a dictatorship but the workplace was a democracy; America may be free but the workplace is a dictatorship” said Len Erlikh after I hired him at First Boston (now Credit Suisse First Boston) in 1986.

He then goes on to defend corporate “enlightened dictators” and the absence of democracy in the workplace.

I know that dictatorship doesn’t sound nice but it is what business leadership entails. People love to follow strong leaders. They want to be led by people with vision, conviction and good values. They may not agree with everything the leader decides, but as long as ethical lines are not being crossed, employees will follow directions, work hard, and be loyal.

The alternative, of course, is a democratic workplace, where employees participate in making the major decisions in the places where they work. Major decisions such as how production is organized, how much surplus there will be, what should be done with the surplus—including what kinds of managers should be hired, how much power they should have, and so on.

Yes, “The job of manager today is to lead, articulate goals, inspire, motivate, and enable.” And, in a democratic workplace, the job of the other workers is to participate in the process of leading, articulating goals, inspiring, motivating, and enabling themselves and everyone else.

Democratic workplaces have no need for dictators, benevolent or otherwise.

Comments
  1. mjlovas says:

    Follow the leader–as long as ethical lines are not being crossed?! What a silly and vacuous qualification. Why should I think the leader knows more than I do? And why should I trust him (or her) to see where to draw the lines. Really weak tea…..Already having to let myself be lead is a violation of my integrity, my freedom, my thinking capacities. Oh the word moral is such boring one, but it doesn’t matter. It’s just an excuse in this context–to distract us from the real repugnancy being trotted out as a sort of commonsense.

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