In the Republic of Amsterdam we live with the myth that managers are rewarded objectively. We select them for certain qualities like getting the best out of a diverse team and it is only for good results that they will get our appreciation and be promoted. This sounds so nice and reasonable! But….
In between our ideas and daily reality stands a thing called culture. Culture is the subtle, invisible factor that determines ‘the way we do things here’. Culture colours our perception of the results achieved. Once upon a time, there were objectively formulated results in the Republic of Amsterdam. I guess they still exist but somehow in daily life the interpretation of the results has changed.
Most valued are not the managers who create a productive work climate where a diversity of team members give the best of their talents and offer excellent but stable outcomes: too boring! Most valued are those managers who extinguish a fire, who solve a crisis. And of course in order to extinguish a fire and solve a crisis, managers do need one. In case of non-availability, managers in the Republic of Amsterdam have become expert in creating them: exciting! Fire and crisis make your work visible: it is hard to attract media attention without a good crisis, so never waste one.
Although this mechanism can be quite funny, especially when you’re an insider trying to predict where the next fire will break out, it doesn’t work out for diversity. In this climate, managers with characteristics of heroism survive best; they set the agenda in Amsterdam, much more than the diverse customers or workers’ insights do. It won’t help to re-formulate the results! Reviewing ‘the way we do things here’ and facing our perceptions is the best way to make progress; tobe less of a fire fighter and more of a leader serving clients…