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Management Styles For Effectiveness - Dissonance Versus Harmony

Larry Galler

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You would think from the title that I am discussing music theory but you would be wrong. I'm talking about management theory and creating an environment that is dysfunctional (dissonant) or calmly purposeful (harmonious).

Management styles vary from the red faced, vein-popping screamer who makes work so unpleasant that staffers are constantly seeking other employment to the doormat who tries to placate everyone while letting them get away with murder and who no one respects. In between those two dissonant extremes with harmony in the middle, there is the bully, the liar, the consensus builder, a few charismatic, natural leaders, the mother or father figure who nurtures everyone, and the appeaser. Complicating the issue it the fact that everyone has competing business and personal agendas that impact how managers manage and how those managed react to their managers. So how does a company move forward when, even in the best of situations, working together is difficult and stressful?

Creating a harmonious environment de-stresses and focuses the company. A critical factor towards creating harmony is having and communicating a clear, honest understanding of the big picture goals the company (or team / department / etc. ) is striving towards. Those goals should be consistent with the mission, vision, and values of the company. If everyone, from the CEO to the night watchman understands those big picture goals and their part in achieving them then it becomes much easier to create and execute the strategies and tactics necessary to achieve them without screaming or quietly accepting sub par efforts.

When managers scream or appease they usually lack confidence. They have few resources to explain, build consensus, or create teamwork because they often don't really know what is expected of them or, if they do, how to attain it so they fall back on their easy personality disorders and create dissonance instead of the harmony that results when everyone is playing in tune. Look at your big picture goals and see if everyone clearly understands them then raise your baton and play beautiful music together.

Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunday since November 2001) business column, “Front Lines with Larry Galler" For a free coaching session, email Larry for an appointment - - Sign up for his free newsletter at


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