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There Lies A Fine Line Between Control And Abuse In Leadership.

Managers and bosses who can control their employees by ensuring that they get compensated fairly and adequately for their work are managers and bosses that employees would fight to work for.


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Dr Joel Yong

5 months ago | 4 min read
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And it doesn’t take much for the next straw to break the camel’s back.

Wehumans are a weird bunch. We crave stability, but after that we get bored of its predictability.

For example, most people desire salaried jobs with an income entering their bank accounts every month — but after a while, they do get bored of it when the work gets mundane and repetitive.

Relationally, humans may desire stable marriages… and then some get the seven year itch where they get bored of our partners. Some people end up hooking up in extramarital affairs, which can leave severe, irreversible scars on their relationships if these affairs are brought to light.

Physically, we might desire a stable health — but at the same time, when there’s nothing wrong with our bodies yet, we may end up imbibing all that alcohol or carbohydrates that can wreak havoc with our body, or stress ourselves out chasing the next promotion to the point that we end up ignoring our social lives and responsibilities.

Financially, we may desire a healthy bank account balance… but yet marketing and advertising tactics make products look so desirable that we may end up taking on loans or paying monthly instalments (with interest) to get certain high end products that we don’t really have much use for.

With stability, life gets terribly boring.

Life gets too predictable when it is too stable. So while we do desire it, we end up not getting really excited by it.

Tim Duncan, for instance, was a basketball legend in the National Basketball Association (NBA). His team, the San Antonio Spurs, were one of the most successful sporting franchises around.

But Duncan was always classified as boring. Nicknamed The Big Fundamental, Duncan was a 5 time NBA champion with the Spurs over 2 decades of professional basketball competition.

Yes, he won NBA championships. He brought stability to the Spurs team by being an effective leader on the court. But he was boring.

Boring because he eschewed the bright lights of glitzy entertainment, remaining controlled and disciplined in his lifestyle to manage his playing career as he neared retirement age.

Boring because he only played a fundamental game and never had much of a flashy side about him.

But that’s the problem with being boring

The boring stuff rarely ever gets noticed.

Ever wonder how our bodies regulate or control our internal temperatures?

We don’t really notice it… but we do notice when we get a fever.

We don’t really notice it when we don’t have a flu… but those muscle aches and the runny nose can be extremely annoying when we do have one!

We don’t really notice it when we don’t have an injury… but a fractured foot or a severe burn can be a world of pain.

Therein lies that fine line between control and abuse.

Our bodies are essentially able to control and regulate our biological functions within specified operating limits.

When we’re outside of those limits, we’d find ourselves inviting trouble.

Having some alcohol for entertainment purposes is fine, but going off the charts and getting addicted to drinking isn’t a great idea at all:

Because when we keep on overstepping those boundaries, we’re essentially abusing that boundary.

We even see that in The Great Resignation

Millions of workers are quitting in droves and leaving businesses short-staffed.

Which is an interesting thing. If I like doing what I’m doing and I like my working environment and I’m getting paid sufficiently well enough to do what I’m doing, then why on earth would I want to resign from my job?

I’d do so if either:

  1. I stopped liking what I was doing.
  2. I didn’t like my working environment that much anymore.
  3. I wasn’t getting paid sufficiently at my current job and I could probably make more money doing the same work elsewhere.

And the interesting issue is that for many employees out there, the issue lies with how much they are being paid. As the Economic Policy Institute states,

From 1978 to 2020, CEO pay based on realized compensation grew by 1,322%, far outstripping S&P stock market growth (817%) and top 0.1% earnings growth (which was 341% between 1978 and 2019, the latest data available). In contrast, compensation of the typical worker grew by just 18.0% from 1978 to 2020.

So while some businesses have experienced tremendous growth and profits, the top executives are the ones who benefit the most, while the people at the bottom of the totem pole do not receive much at all.

And when one realises that they can make more money elsewhere, they’d be more inclined to move.

Because most of us humans do have a mercenary instinct within us. We do desire the need for a “fair” compensation for the work that we’re doing, and if we’re being compensated unfairly low, we’d tend to think of that as abuse.

Managers and bosses who can control their employees by ensuring that they get compensated fairly and adequately for their work are managers and bosses that employees would fight to work for.

But if a manager would try to force an employee to do extra work with insufficient compensation, the employee would view it as abuse.

That’s an extremely fine line to tread right there!

Whether we’re looking at our working conditions or our health or whatever else that can affect us significantly, we always do have to look at the fine line between control and abuse.

A taxi driver, for instance, will abuse a cab by putting on tons of mileage on it and transporting many different people around each day. They might even split shifts with another driver to ensure that the cab is running 24/7.

That does mean that the cab has to undergo cleaning, servicing and maintenance more frequently — for the tyres, the engine oil, and everything else that is necessary for the cab to run properly.

We may choose to “abuse” ourselves by stretching ourselves to the limit — but we do need to perform proper servicing and maintenance on ourselves to prevent burnout and to keep ourselves sane, no?

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Dr Joel Yong

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Educator | Biochemical Scientist

Deconstructing the interconnectedness between health and business. Join my mailing list at http://thethinkingscientist.substack.com or book a one-on-one consultation session with me at https://app.ddichat.com/experts/thethinkingscientist.


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