Does upper management pressure mid-levels to make "tough" decisions, right or wrong?
Asking especially those in those ranks: do higher execs push their mid-level managers to prove their gumption/authority by making "tough" or radical, mean or outright bad decisions, for the "long term better good" of honing an aggressive, decisive junior/"up an coming" manager who cares more about proving (especially!! her)self up to the pressure, than about milieu and/or those she supervises?
In most cases, it's more about the ability to make a decision, and less about the decision itself.
You can teach someone the mechanics of any business (If "A" occurs, then do "B"), but the ability to actually make the tough decisions on ones own, that's something you can't train.
I am sure that this happens. There are many companies out there with emotionally un-intelligent leadership that focus on toughness, instead of the real application of intelligence (intellectual and emotional intelligence) to solve and prevent problems.
One company I consulted for required every manager to go through training in tough negotiation tactics. It was very successful when managers negotiated with vendors - they got great deals. But managers used the same technique internally, arguing over money that was just moving from one department to another in the same company! It was a ridiculous waste of energy and a real downer.
Look up my hubs on leadership and synergy to learn more.
In my experience, it is often the case that higher execs make the tough decisions but leave the unpleasant implementation to their juniors. Making the decision (for example to dismiss employees or implement difficult new strategies) is easy enough, but the implementation can be the more difficult aspect.
The executives in a comfortable boardroom might decide that nobody gets a Christmas bonus this year, but some poor sod involved in the hands-on management of the staff gets to field all the flack.
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