I had lunch with a close friend of mine today. He mentioned how his ideas for improvements were continually shot down at work. Even when he could point to legitimate reasons for wanting to change something that was clearly broken, his lead overrode his decision and continued to work in a sloppy fashion. This all sounded very demoralising.

This is troubling on multiple levels. For one, all ideas should be evaluated scientifically on its merit and not on the whims and fancies of those “leading” the team. A sign of a good leader is someone who can discuss the pros and cons of any solution and give legitimate reasons as to why one course of action should be preferred over another. He should also be willing to continually experiment with improving how work is done.

Secondly, if the leaders of any team are not continually learning and questioning their assumptions they will stop improving. In the long run they will become a cancer that attacks the motivation and innovation of all employees of the company that want to do a good job.

If you see these sorts of dictators at work, it’s time to overthrow them.