- Managers assume they are still in school, as if schooling prepared them for life and both situations play by the same rules. They're making the grade at work.
- These managers are cannot catch their own mistakes anymore than they could grade their own homework papers. They need others in positions of authority to tell them when they have done the right thing or fallen short of expectations. They "manage up" as if their livelihood depends on it. They cannot "manage down" effectively because they look condescendingly on those beneath them.
- They are afraid to make mistakes or admit they made an error. They imagine they will get: marked down, bad grades or held back from advancements -- if they make mistakes that get caught. When they make an error, they're devastated, as if they are mistaken to try and succeed in this line of work. If it's a stupid mistake, they're convinced they are really stupid. They cannot earn other's respect because they lack self-respect. They run an image campaign instead of exposing their need to learn more on the job.
- These managers live in fear of getting exposed for their incompetence, insecurities, ignorance and inferiority. They stick to their own kind and avoid comparisons to "the smart kids". The collusion among these equally-frightened managers provides false reassurances that they are good enough to "pass the test". They avoid pushing each other's hot buttons or exposing each others shortcomings.
- They cannot learn from what happens as a result of their efforts, from feedback from colleagues or from their own mistakes. Their minds have been closed after receiving so much criticism, such frequent invalidation, so many performance expectations and relentless pressures to meet with others' approval. They have been hammered into a piece of sculpture that never changes.
- When a subordinate appears smarter, more competent or faster at learning from mistakes, there's a crisis of confidence among these managers. Alarm bells go off as if their hot buttons have been pushed and their dark secrets have been exposed. The obvious comparisons are devastating in their minds. The "low-life's" competence poses a serious threat that calls for retaliation.
- The managers are then filled with unconscious urges to "bully the smart kids". The managers can dish out abuse, but they cannot take it. They are over-compensating for their own insecurities. They go to great lengths to mishandle their competent underlings.
The first step in finding freedom in these situations -- is to recognize this pattern established during schooling. Acting competent will backfire. Acting incompetent, clueless and inferior is no better. Freedom comes after more discoveries get made beyond this pattern (to be continued).