Anyone that has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for any
length of time has known someone that received a leadership calling in the Church and who then
immediately became dictatorial. Doctrine and Covenants 121 is a constant reminder of how we
should lead in the organization of the Church and our homes and gives the following warning:
"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all
men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to
exercise unrighteous dominion." D&C 121:39
But what about at our jobs where we make our living? Does D&C 121 apply to our careers?
One of the most important tasks of a manager at all levels of a company is to efficiently and
effectively direct the people that work for him or her. Directing the activities of a person is not
Remember the centurion in Matthew 8 who was concerned that his house was not worthy for the
Savior to enter because he had authority over soldiers. He would tell the soldiers to go and they
would go, to come and they would come.
Of course with Roman soldiers, the order may have been go over there and kill those people or
come here and enslave all of these people. But still, there is nothing about having authority over
people that is bad. It is how we use that authority that matters.
Christ directs the affairs of His Church and has authority over us. He has given us
commandments to follow, provided prophets who give us counsel, and endowed us with the
Holy Ghost to help lead and guide us. He has provided all of these things because He loves us
and so our lives can be blessed.
When it comes to our employment there are clearly some managers who think that unrighteous
dominion is actually the goal.
The first item to understand about this manager is that it is all about him and his progression up
the corporate ladder. This manager does not hire new employees with proper care. He thinks
that all employees are replaceable and if one does not work out, then fire him and get another.
This manager does not properly train new employees. He works his employees as long and as
hard as possible until they either quit or they tire and make mistakes and then the manager fires
them. From his first day, every employee knows that his job is on the line every day. The
manager constantly threatens to eliminate people's jobs in an attempt to squeeze a little bit more
work out of the employee.
He can never take the time to try and correct areas of weakness in employees. Weaknesses are to
be documented in the employee's file so that termination can be swift whenever the manager is
in the mood.
This manager loves to scream at people and intimidate them. He confuses fear with respect. He
reasons that someone in management needs to "throw his weight around."
This manager takes the praise when something goes right in his area of responsibility and blames
his employees when a mistake has been made.
Perhaps a few examples from my time in corporate America would be beneficial.
I was in a meeting one time and Sally, a senior manager, was angry because it was a busy time of
year and an important employee of hers, Steve, was sick in the hospital. Steve's illness was
severe enough that the doctor had ordered no work. He was going to be in the hospital another
week, and all Sally could say was how inconvenienced she was. She said if all he was going to
do was lie in bed all day, couldn't they at least stick a computer in front of Steve so he could get
some work done? Nice.
Bill was a VP over a big department in a division of a large corporation. Bill basked in the glory
when the division was doing well. What the people that reported to Bill did not know was that
all the years Bill was their VP, whenever anything went wrong Bill blamed them to make
himself look better.
When Bill was going to retire he was nice enough to tell the people that worked for him that it was
only a matter of time before they were all fired. Corporate management thought they were all
incompetent after years of being bad mouthed by the VP. Nice.
One more just for fun. Sandy already had a full time job and enjoyed what she was doing. She
was well liked by her peers and always got good reviews from her manager. The VP over
Sandy's boss needed someone to fill a position that had recently been created. The VP did not
want to hire someone but wanted to look like a hero saving the company money.
He made Sandy an offer she could not refuse. She was told to keep all of her old responsibilities
and take on the new role or be fired. Sandy began working crazy hours, getting in at 6am and
leaving no earlier than 7pm, Monday through Friday. And then she was expected to work on
Saturday and Sunday. Even with all these hours she could not get all the work done to the
satisfaction of the VP and was fired. Nice.
In this article I have presented some examples of bad behavior of managers. The next article
will continue the focus on the behavior of managers.
Adam Smith is obviously not the actual name of the author of this column. The real author has
worked for two Fortune 500 companies, one privately held company, and a public accounting
firm. His undergraduate degree was in accounting, and he earned an MBA for his graduate
degree. He also has completed coursework for a PhD. in finance. He continues to be employed
by one of the Fortune 500 companies.
The author grew up in the Washington D.C. area but also lived for several years in Arizona. He
currently resides with his family on the East Coast.
The author has held various callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.