Pre-Emptive Strike Leadership: The Stand-In

Your employees’ relationship with people who have power over them in the organization will always include “stand-ins” – that is, the unseen presence of influential people who have held power over them at some point in their lives.  Given the significance of relationships that people have with others in their lives, starting with childhood, those relationships that represented the greatest threat to them emotionally will be the ones that become the “stand in” in the workplace.  The power dynamic that is necessarily present in the workplace is what creates the “trigger” for the insertion of the “stand in”.  Managers, executives, HR representatives all “stand in” for the unseen influences carried in the door by employees.  

Managers, in particular, are holding power at the front lines of our organizations.  They are the ones employees interact with most often and who have direct control over many aspects of the employee’s life.  Power dynamics are at their most concentrated here for employees, and the way in which staff will interpret interactions with managers has a great deal to do with who the managers are “standing in” for in their employees’ lives.  An unsavvy and oblivious manager can end up generating a host of negative and unproductive reactions on the part of the employee that are often completely unrelated to the manager but, unfortunately, still their responsibility.  

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