The Epitome of Dysfunction

Recently celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey’s show Kitchen Nightmares featured a restaurant in Arizona run by a husband and wife team. On the surface, the restaurant looked like a classy place, but inside it was full of unbalanced emotion and dysfunction.

Dysfunction. We hear that word all the time at conferences, in books, and blogs. But what does it look like? There are a lot of ways to define dysfunction. But this episode of kitchen nightmares puts a few on display:

Unhealthy & Unbalanced Emotions. Every organization has a leadership structure. When leaders have an unhealthy personal and emotional life, everyone in the organization suffers. Clues tend to be emotional outbursts, major mood swings, and lots of interpersonal drama. A lot of people are wounded by dysfunctional leaders with unhealthy and unbalanced emotional issues.

An Inability to Handle Criticism. Part of life as a leader is a constant stream of critiques. In my life, criticism has proved invaluable to my development and maturity. Immature leaders respond quickly and emotionally to criticism fairly often. They never seem to progress or develop, and tend to claim they’re being attacked whenever they feel threatened. They alienate other strong and talented leaders, and generally surround themselves with people who pose no “threat” to their emotional and professional psyche. Organizations tend to decline with this sort of leadership because the best and brightest are often sent packing.

Refusal To Change. Leaders that don’t keep learning can’t adapt or grow as fast as the culture around them, and tend to drag their organization into irrelevancy with them. They can’t accept a critique as helpful, and respond with unbalanced emotions to what they see as a threat. Therefore, rather than lead effectively in a rapidly changing culture, they bristle at the idea of changing anything, and rally whoever will listen to their defense of mediocrity. They’ll introduce conflict where none was needed, while the culture moves on and keeps progressing right past them.

Now take a deep breath… and exhale. None of us are perfect but all of us must be moving forward. What have you seen firsthand? What are other signs of dysfunction? What do you bring to the table in your relationships? Your job? Your family? We all have our own growth areas; can you see any of yours?

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