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Why Your Boss Is Programmed to Be a Dictator: A Book for Anyone Who Has a Boss or Is a Boss [Paperback]

Chetan Dhruve
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Jun 2007
Do you have a bad boss or have you had a bad boss? If you
haven't chances are, sadly, you will have one in the future. Bosses induce
anything from nervousness and anxiety to fear and absolute terror. But why
do bosses behave badly? Why do apparently assertive and intelligent people
bow down to bad bosses? To solve the problem of bad bosses, conventional
books tell you how to deal with a bad boss, or how to become a better boss
yourself. But this new book makes the radical argument that bosses behave
the way they do because of something outside of them. Similarly, something
outside of you makes you behave submissively towards your bosses.
What's that something? Through a field of study called Systems Thinking,
this book investigates, and shows you why bosses are effectively programmed
to be dictators. It also reveals how this results in our workplaces being
built on the shaky foundation of fear, not freedom. Using real life
examples including the world's worst aviation accident, the two space
shuttle disasters and the war on Iraq, the book examines the devastating
consequences of the way organizations currently work. Ultimately, beyond
getting you to do things differently, this book will change the way you
look at the issue of leadership in organizations.

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Cyan / Marshall Cavendish; 1st Paperback Edition edition (4 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0462099024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0462099026
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 325,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"By looking at the failings in the system rather than the individual,
Dhruve attacks the cause of behavioural problems in the workplace rather
than the symptoms. The explanations as to why we have such a wealth of bad
bosses become almost shockingly obvious once approached from the angle of
systems thinking." -- Management Issues, 25 June 2007

"This book is a breakthrough"
-- Sally Bibb, author of Stone Age Company and former Director, the Economist Group (publishers of the Economist magazine)

Read this - There are plenty of books out there telling you how to
deal with a bad boss, or how to become a better boss. But in Why Your Boss
is Programmed to Be a Dictator (Cyan, £8.99), Chetan Dhruve uses
"systems thinking" to explain why bosses are effectively wired by
their companies to rule by fear rather than freedom. -- The Guardian, Work - Note to Self, 7 July 2007

About the Author

Chetan Dhruve has worked for several organizations, including
IBM, Cisco Systems and the Department for International Development (the
aid wing of the UK Foreign Office). He has also co-founded several
Internet-based start-ups.

Chetan has an MBA from Cass Business School (London), an MA in
international journalism from City University (London), and a BSc in
Mathematics, Physics and Electronics from St Joeseph's College, Bangalore

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very well-researched book with numerous case-studies and examples about how a culture of dictatorial bosses can lead to disasters.
I loved this book since it studies a common problem (crazy bosses of the garden variety ... including your boss if you work in a large corporation) using the lens of systems thinking. The book does strike a chord for those working in larger corporations.

In the book, the author proposes that corporations be structured like democratic nations with employees having the right to elect (yes ... elect!) their leaders. The idea definitely has some potential and may even work in some industries and situations. One example that comes to mind is Ricardo Semler's Semco.

A must read for anybody who works in a big company and wants to avoid the traps that come with such job environments.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's not the bosses' fault 22 Oct 2009
This is a nice little book. Chetan is a systems thinker and uses this technique to analyse the boss problem - why do bosses bully? His conclusion is that the behaviour of a boss does not come from inside the man, but from the design of the management system.

A very worthwhile read, but I fear his recommended solution is not going to happen any time soon - but who knows, perhaps this book is the start of a movement.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Idea 18 Aug 2008
By Marios
I think the author has developed a brilliant idea. His approach is very interesting and it is very enjoyable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Out of the boss thinking 8 Jun 2007
By Preetha
Sensational! Provokes out of the boss thinking.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, read it! 1 Sep 2010
By Atul K Patel - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very insightful book and well-worth reading!

Having "been there done that" from both a manager and employee perspective, it does come down to the "work environment" being "the common denominator system"... both from the perspective of limiting the manager and the employee. There are other factors that greatly affect the manager-employee relationship basis and the success of the business:

1. The core Founding business vision and mission
2. The strength of the personal philosophy of the leaders ... CEOs, etc.
3. The priority of creating an open, stimulating, innovative workplace where respect, equality and fairness is paramount in the implementation of the Business' Vision and Mission statement.

I've had the good fortune of working in a startup where the Founder's vision held true (for the most part) to the above. However, a few months after the founders departure, the work place environment and the "system of systems", some of which the book describes, went in to disrepair. This was about 5 years after the founding event; 4 years after the environment had degraded into a "common place" environment subject to some of the rules and observations that you mention in depth with your book.

I feel that these Businesses and these situations "self-correct" by either going out of business or becoming "just another workplace". However, by then, severe damage to both the employee and the business is done; most of the top talent observe these system dynamics and leave for a better manager and work environment.

I feel that there is no substitute to having a strong set of leaders and managers that focus on some of the above priorities in a "Continuous Improvement" fashion and are bold enough to "throw away" value systems that simply do not add long term business, employee and workplace value. Awareness and education helps, but the large and legacy workplaces are subject to most of the weaknesses of the human condition - power, greed (management bonuses!), decision by committee and fear (both the manager and employee).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inconvenient Truth 16 Aug 2010
By Rod Collins - Published on
In his thought-provoking book, "Why Your Boss Is Programmed to Be a Dictator," Chetan Dhruve delves into a question that has stumped many a frustrated worker: "Why do bosses behave the way they do?" Far too often, we have predictably witnessed the transformation of otherwise good-natured people into calculating, controlling, and sometimes coercive miscreants intent on dominating the people around them. According to Dhruve, the answer is an inconvenient truth that is rarely talked about: If you aren't elected, then you're a dictator.

Dhruve makes a convincing argument that, contrary to popular belief, bosses are not leaders. True leaders are always chosen by their followers and are rarely selected by other bosses. He cites the example of Ghandi who changed a nation, not because he was thrust upon his people, but because so many Indians voluntarily accepted him as their leader. Unfortunately, too companies and agencies are essentially illiterate when it comes to understanding true leadership because they still believe that boss-subordinate relationship is the cornerstone of effective organizations.

When the boss-subordinate relationship determines day-to-day interactions, organizations become hierarchical systems where the power to control inevitably promotes the politics of fear and those who are controlled learn quickly to keep their mouths shut when they see things differently from their assigned superiors. Unfortunately, these systems can produce dire and sometimes fatal consequences. Dhruve references the worst disaster in aviation history, the crash of two jumbo jets on Tenerfie Island in March 1977, when a flight engineer concerned about the possible presence of another jet on the runway was brusquely rebuffed by his captain. He also delves into the two fatal NASA calamities where the boss-subordinate system allowed the bosses to silence the voices of those knowledge workers who know that those two shuttle craft were in serious jeopardy.

As we progress further into the 21st century, Dhruve warns that hierarchical organizations must be transformed into peer-to-peer communities where the politics of freedom supplants the politics of fear. in these communities, leaders and followers are mutually accountable to each other, which means not only do the leaders rate the performance of the followers, but the followers also rate the leaders. This transformation is necessary because hierarchical organizations will never be able to keep pace the speed of accelerating change spawned by today's networked technology. If you're a boss or you work for a boss, you need to read this book.

Rod Collins
Author, "Leadership in a Wiki World: Leveraging Collective Knowledge to Make the Leap to Extraordinary Performance"
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Time to Reprogram Corporate America! 2 Aug 2009
By Larry Underwood - Published on
Chetan Dhruve drives home a fascinating point in this look at the insidious nature of those creatures we love to hate---bosses. Through a process called "System Thinking" (aka "Common Sense") we discover that "something outside of them" compels their horrible behavior towards those they supervise. Actually, it's not a new revelation as far as I'm concerned; but it's definitely right on the money.

The problem is the way the typical organization is structured, and the culture of "fear" that is so pervasive throughout. Many of us have witnessed it firsthand; some have even written books about it (I did). To put it succinctly, the "fear-based culture" of management; the typical way of doing business in corporate America; has done a number of not so neat "tricks" over the past few decades. The very nature of the typical corporate hierarchy breeds intimidation; which breeds fear; which breeds micro-management; which breeds backstabbing.

That's a lot of breeding going on; and unfortunately, this type of breeding isn't at all fun. In fact, it's destroying many organizations by killing morale; that in turn hinders employee engagement; and the end result is lower productivity for corporate America. Estimates on how much this is costing our overall productivity range anywhere from $1 to $2 trillion, annually; and that's not a typo. Trillions of dollars is being wasted each year because the head-honchos of so many companies don't seem to understand that getting employees excited about going to work breeds success; because the happy & motivated employee is the productive employee.

If you want a real-life maverick's perspective on what's wrong with corporate America, I'd encourage you to take a look at my book---Life Under the Corporate Microscope: A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective---right here on Amazon.

In the meantime, I'd encourage you to buy this book, for the comprehensive explanation of what's wrong with big business & also check out Paul Herr's Primal Management: Unraveling the Secrets of Human Nature to Drive High Performance; another five star gem.
5.0 out of 5 stars If You're Not Elected, You're Not A Leader - You're A Dictator 12 Jan 2011
By Anthony Dasilva Jr. - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After reading this book, I've had a change of heart. I've concluded that hierarchy is a symptom and not the dominant cause of dysfunctional corprocracies. In his book, Mr. Dhruve skillfully develops a compelling case that the lack of the right to vote managers into and out of higher status slots in the hierarchy is the real cause of poor org-wide performance and staff suffering in the workplace.

Mr. Dhruve asserts that there are two canonical forms of power systems: leaderships and dictatorships. By his definition, leaders are elected into power by those they lead, and dictators assume power by any other means. In corprocracies, dictators don't assume power by shedding blood, they assume power in a civilized manner; by anointment from higher status dictators.

The unquestioned assumption in dictatorships is that superior status equates directly with superior knowledge and judgment. In corpo dictatorships, un-submissive subjects aren't killed. They're marginalized at best, and fired at worst. Chetan closes his masterpiece with a brilliant quote targeted at anyone in any power structure:

If you aren't elected, you're a dictator - Chetan Dhruve
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