It was many years ago when I had my first experience of a senior management member controlling the CEO. Since then I’ve seen this happen a good dozen times, and one common feature across all the various situations is that the top brass appears to be totally unaware – OR does, in fact, feel the tension yet wants to believe the others are unaware.
The subtleties are endless:
- The “controlling one” operates under the guise of being indispensable (e.g., performing as a filtering agent to protect the head honcho),
- The chief is psychologically attached (the controlling one reminds him or her of a family member…this could be either good or bad),
- The chief seems to know that things could get ugly if the controlling one is not allowed to feel special,
- The chief perceives a political threat not to have the controlling one within his or her inner circle, and
- The list could go on, and it does.
Or in a surprise twist, could it be that the perceived controlling one really doesn’t want that relationship and is only responding to please his or her boss?
Regardless of what describes the underpinnings to what everyone notices, trust erosion is inevitable. Yes, sometimes the clueless emperor stands psychologically naked before his or her people. So how can this situation be rectified?