Divide & Conquer; Building & Destroying Teams – Part 3 Opinion

This 3-part series has been a unique adventure for me. I definitely feel I will expand on this series. I will find some way for readers to identify when I have made additions to the articles. I think identifying updates is fair for those readers who have taken something from the series.

Part 3 is about my personal opinion on divide and conquer strategies and tactics. I may revert to a very informal style of writing. I encourage readers to contact me if my writing in Part 3 becomes muddled. Let us venture on and see where my mind is comprehending my own reality. Please remember when reading on I am sharing my personal opinion and there is nothing hidden or formally supported through research or study. Enjoy the following reading.

Dividing and conquering is very deceptive. It is as deceptive as any and all strategies and tactics employed by managers and leaders in all applications. Dividing and conquering is a strategy intended to quell the masses; to enforce control over groups. Dividing groups into smaller controllable groups makes complete sense and has been utilizes for far longer than I have walked Earth. (Now, that is a duh statement!)

We are taught from early ages in school to divide into smaller groups to get more accomplished. Classrooms are often ran on divide and conquer, really, think about it… no single elementary school teacher will be able to control 25 or 30 7-year old children. I remember dividing into smaller groups throughout my educational career including up to April, 2017 when I finished my second Master’s Degree. We, as a culture are conditioned from early on to understand smaller groups or teams often can realize more significant learning. Enough about teaching and learning strategies.

In the work world we see small specialized groups in the workplace conducting very specific tasks to support the entire goals and objectives of the organization. Accountants work in accounting, finance, and payroll. Mechanics work in garages doing engine, body, or some specialized sub-section of those two categories. A car dealership is not going to ask an accountant to head out to the garage and change a CV Joint and likewise, the mechanic is not going to put sleeve bands on and visor and go to clicking away at determining payroll and cutting checks. I digress, this is all very simple to understand, let us move on to something a bit more deep and possibly controversial.

Lying and concealing relevant information necessary to do a task is destructive. It seems, in my opinion, many managers do just this, lie and conceal information. I like to think of these bad habits as silo-ing effect where a person keeps vital information trapped within their control to ensure they are indispensable to an organization. These behaviors are driven by incompetence, fear, lack of education, lack of empathy, and poor vision of the environment. I do not want to start grinding my ax here, but I have seen so many managers tell bold-faced lies to people it does not just make me scratch my head anymore.  Instead of just being honest and transparent, which is extremely respectful of a person, managers will say anything. In my career time I have heard such crazy lies from managers it is unbelievable.

Lyes. Lyes, they just keep coming from the mouths of incompetent, under-prepared, under educated, un-empathetic, and scared managers.

“We’ll have a decision next week,” and nothing is ever said and when queried managers deflect with some rhetoric about priorities changing or some other lame excuse.

“We need more data before we can do anything,” yes, data collection is just a form of lying to people in the hopes the data collection process becomes so convoluted attrition makes the topic or situation fade away.

“I totally support your promotion. You deserve it,” if I had a bullshit flag right now, I would be waving it crazily right now.

“I don’t have authority to make that decision,” grow a pair and make a decision.

“I have your back on this,” yeah, right. Mangers are not friends and they rarely could care less about protecting anyone but themselves. Not an absolute, but surely measurable and significant.

Just a few examples of lies we hear stammered from the lips of managers. I have heard others, but they are very specific to detailed tasks. People in general are not stupid and can see the lies for what they are in statements from managers. Lies destroy teams quickly. Lies let nasty things fester up in a team which all stem from distrust. Lies beget distrust, distrust begets apathy, apathy begets loss of vision of the goals and objectives of any organization.

Trust is a huge component of successful teams. There are two ways to look at trust. First, in the very conventional method of having trust in someone they will be honest, ethical, and moral in their words and actions. Then the second way, trusting people to behave in a manner consistent with past behavior. An example of the second way of trusting someone is this; I trust John will stab me in the back as quickly as he can at every turn to make himself look better to move up the corporate ladder. I will do a little Jedi musing here, trust is like the Light and Dark Sides of the Force. The Light Side of the Force is having faith one will do what one says they will do. The Dark Side of the Force says we must trust and be vigilant of those who will behave and act in a predictable way to further one’s own agenda as they have demonstrated through past actions.

I honestly have faith there is a better way to lead people than divide them. Unity is a root of Community which we recognize as efforts conducted by a group in relation to accomplishing some task or tasks. In business there are many small communities, but there is also always a larger entity which makes a decent vision of goals and opportunities. I caution though, plan for the best and prepare for the worst. There are far too many wild cards in the deck of life and Murphy will always throw his Law into the mix to make things just so much more interesting.

Dividing and conquering is really a well-used military strategy which employs tactics necessary to win a battle or war.  More to come………

Author: Gary

I am a Native Oregonian and grew up on the south side of the central coast in the small town of Bandon. After serving in the US Navy for 11 years I returned home to pursue my passion in leadership. I graduated from the University of Oregon with two degrees in Sociology and Planning, Public Policy, & Management. After a few years of working I returned to academic pursuits. I earned my Masters of Business Administration with a heavy emphasis on Servant Leadership from Northwest Christian University. Life took a twist and I left the Eugene, Oregon area and moved to the Portland, Oregon circus! I currently work for a very large company and have enjoyed great benefits which have allowed me to continue my life long pursuit of knowledge. I have completed Six Sigma Master Black Belt coursework with Villanova University as well as a certificate from University of Notre Dame in Executive Management. Recently, I earned my second Master's Degree from Michigan State University in Management, Strategy, & Leadership. I have lived a pretty good life and I keep things honest. No mincing of words from me and sometimes that means I drop a little bomb in my language. Please, forgive me if my language becomes a little brutish. I pride myself on being able to learn from anyone and any circumstance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s