The Ironic Manager Blog

An Ironic Perspective on the World of Work

Your Identity is Fluid

Your Identity is Fluid

When discussing the misconceptions of identity currently littering much of the organisational tracts on the subject, Kevin Sinclair, an Organisational Coach based in Newcastle, New South Wales, and I recently had a brief online conversation about this article written by the philosopher, Julian Baggini. We agreed that (a) the literature fails dismally to capture the idea of the self being fluid and (b) comically (and perhaps tragically) regards fluidity of self as being emotionally stressful and psychologically harmful rather than a necessary and core element of what it means to be human. 

I've written stuff on the idea of a fluid self previously, but have failed to articulate it with any clarity. I always get caught up in socio-psychological jargon that hinders rather than helps the reader. I think it is an important, perhaps vital, topic for those experiencing the pressures of contemporary organisational life. So, not being able to explain it clearly is hugely frustrating. So what to do? 

Obviously, like any good son, I ask my mother for help!

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8 Steps to an Authentic Organisation

8 Steps to an Authentic Organisation
“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” 
― May Sarton

The above quote, on authenticity, is one of my favourites. Before reading on, I'd like you to consider the following: Is it the same level of daring if you are in a position of power to when you are in a position of no power? If not, why not? Keep it in mind, because it will help prepare you for the latter steps in the article.

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Sarcastic Employees & Cynical Managers | Is This Your Life?

Sarcastic Employees & Cynical Managers | Is This Your Life?

Just before Christmas, I was contacted by an academic in Austria who had seen me present in Vienna on irony and ambivalence in organisations. She was coming to Australia and wanted to chat to me about her recently published paper on "anti-essentialist" management, which had further piqued her interest in irony. Her research findings are excellent, need to be read by senior managers and almost certainly never will be. Here's what she wrote about and why it won't mean a damn!

Employee Sarcasm and Management Cynicism

Before reading on, the following Dilbert cartoon will perhaps help anticipate the content.

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Emotionally Intelligent Decision-Making in an Ambivalent Society

Emotionally Intelligent Decision-Making in an Ambivalent Society

We are inundated with literature and advice on how to be emotionally intelligent leaders, happy at work, show our authentic passions and generally be positive contributors to society. It's an increasingly powerful force in the world of leadership, management and organisations. As is my wont, I find the degree to which this literature entreats us to follow its path (and no other) suspicious, feeling it is trying to blind us from contemplating Hegel's "unhappy consciousness" and pushing towards being "happy robots".

We seem to be fleeing from something, some amorphous fear lurking at the back of our minds that we can't possible let out into the open, a zombie worm of doubt and fear that feeds our anxieties. By telling us we must be this type of person, emotionally and intelligently, or emotionally intelligently (hah!), assured of making clear and rational decisions that push forward our personal and corporate agendas in the pursuit of our happyness [sic] and purpose, are we not, as we have always tended to do, pushing the complexities of human existence into the naughty corner, out of sight and out of mind. Why are we doing this? 

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Authenticity and the End of Organisational Culture

Authenticity and the End of Organisational Culture

The last great development in organisational theory was that of the strong culture movement, originating in the seventies, developed in the eighties, dominating in the nineties and still, despite a decline, highly relevant today (just note how many job adverts you read talking about the great organisational culture and how interviews check to see if you're a fit for it).  There have, however, been increasing amounts of critique about the tenets of strong culture theory that are hugely impacting the market today, resulting in the rise of concepts such as authenticity, emotional intelligence and purpose. 

In simple terms, the development proceeded like this:

  1. There was a surge of interest around the idea that organisations with a strong culture would be populated by loyal, hard-working and enthusiastic employees. 
  2. It became apparent that such cultures actually produced (a) employees who saw no meaning in these cultural values, finding them absurd and (b) employees who became so emotionally bound to the culture they broke under its pressures.
  3. The above was explained by the idea that such cultures produced "fake emotions", resulting in either existential meaninglessness or psychological breakdown as employees lost touch with their "authentic emotions".
  4. There was a surge of interest around the idea that organisations allowing authentic emotions would be populated by loyal, hard-working and enthusiastic employees.
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The Ironic Manager seriously rethinks how organisations work at the most fundamental level and offers a variety of solutions for businesses struggling to cope with the ambiguity and stresses inherent to contemporary organisational conditions of constant change.

Richard has been helping businesses and people deal with leadership, management, communication, technology and change for over twenty years through his training, coaching, speaking and consulting services. 

His innovative research is highly regarded by world-leaders in management and leadership. 

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