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When the Boss Makes Bad Decisions

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Dear Bev,

I am a financial advisor in a small practice. There are 12 of us working at the firm. The founder and current president, whom I’ll call Joe, is a control freak. No decisions can be made without his blessing. The problem is that he is semi-retired. He can be gone for two weeks out of the month sometimes. The business still has to run and we have to make decisions, but the last person who made an executive decision in Joe’s absence was fired. Is there a way we could conduct an intervention? It’s not good for Joe or for the firm, but he doesn’t seem to see it that way.

Name Withheld

Dear Financial Advisor,

It’s always fascinating when the person in charge cannot see the impact their choices are having on others but the people who can see are afraid to bring it up. I believe this is sometimes referred to as the “Emperor has no clothes” syndrome. Who will take the risk to let him know he is exposed?

The truth is that when someone is in a position of power — for example, in your case, he owns the firm — there is only so much you can do to help that person see the light. I would not recommend a mutiny or an intervention, because it could feel very threatening to him.

If you have a strong relationship with Joe and he trusts you — or if there is someone else in the firm he trusts — you could try having a low-key conversation pointing out the importance of timely responses and the ability to act quickly in his absence. Perhaps someone could suggest a system for decision-making when he is out that he could approve. Don’t point out the negative consequences. Instead, frame it as something that is good for him and good for the firm.

I’m afraid you can’t really point the finger at him any more than this. The person in charge is the one who gets to make the rules. This is hurting him and, from the sounds of your note, hurting the business. It’s probably to his detriment, but he may not be able to let go and behave differently. There are many people who make bad choices and refuse to shift, even when it would be better for them to do so. One of the quirks of human behavior.

See full article on When the Boss Makes Bad Decisions by Beverly Flaxington, Advisor Perspectives

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