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Leadership Style: Kindergarten Teacher

The infantilisation of adults has been on my agenda for years. Managers and leaders are complaining about their workforce but it is like Gen X complaining about Gen Z and the way they behave. You raised them lovelies! It is your handy work and there is no difference in the world of work. 


  • We've raised individuals who are encouraged to feel empowered yet are consistently denied the opportunity to make decisions.

  • When people mess up we scold them like five-year-olds in HR's - the school principal's - office. Can you stop calling people into the HR office, please!!! But most importantly, stop shouting at them and skip the pep talk. 

  • When we ask them to play games (team-building activities) instead of talking about their challenges in black & white. It feels like play therapy child psychologists use to get children to tell us what happened to them. We don't need that in the world of adults. 

  • When we shove a paper certificate (maybe with stars on it) in their faces, just like the one we got in kindergarten, as a reward and recognition. Dude, give me one more paper crap instead of money and I will produce nothing of value. 

  • When HR tells us not to disclose our salaries. Why? We are not stupid, we know that there is a massive disparity. Disparity is not the problem, the problem is that HR cannot justify it even if it has a good reason for it. So they say, "Don't tell anyone" just like my mom used to say "Don't tell your dad" when we did something he would not approve or had no explanation for it. Talk to people fair and square. 

  • When we deny education from employees so we can treat them poorly. Years ago, I threw out the idea to my HR Director, “Why don’t we train employees on the basics of their legal rights in terms of overtime, pay etc.?” The answer was, “They can read the law if they want, but I will not create conflict intentionally.” Let's keep people in the dark so we can use and abuse them. 

  • When we provide the illusion of caring with food. Give them, bread and circuses and they will not revolt. - Juvenal. So we organise pizza parties, silly celebrations, $10 coupons, worthless presents, doughnuts, and ice cream. It is a theme park; rollercoasters of productivity, merry-go-rounds of engagement, ice cream, pizza, and games. But this is not what employees want. This is a kindergarten with coloured books and a spaghetti tower building. 

  • When we put Fitbit on everyone, completely invading their privacy and the organisation sets them goals over their physical and mental wellbeing. Yes, I know a government entity like that run by a person who probably has major mommy issues and now taking it out on his employees. STOP IT IMMEDIATELY!

  • We talk at people, we act as a source of truth about them (appraisal, feedback and pep talk), and we tell them what they are good at, what they are not good at, and what kind of career path they can have with us. These might seem helpful but it is all about restrictions and forcing the management's view on the individuals. 


We shove them into staff accommodations with this result:


  • They have Limited Self-Governance 

  • They view the Employer as a Guardian 

  • We exercise Parent-Like Control 

  • They developed Permission-Seeking Behaviour for the smallest thing 

  • They have Regressed Responsibilities 

  • They experience a Student Lifestyle 

  • They adopted a Lower Sense of Responsibility 

  • They have a Lower Ability for Privacy Regulation 

  • We Systematically Invade their Privacy 

  • They developed a mechanism to Protect their Privacy 

  • They experience three types of isolation; Social, Community, and Personal


Anyone with half a brain cell recognises that it is; The Misery of Knowing We Are Doing Harm. We are knowingly harming people and we sold them the idea that we are kind to them by providing everything but freedom and basic human and legal rights. 


Do we really expect people to behave like responsible adults when they are treated this way? The only responsible thing they can do is say goodbye to us. 


I have been writing about the Kidults at work for years, and whilst leaders recognise the problem, they are unwilling to address it. In my book The Corporate Kindergarten, I gave specific examples of these points trying to shed light on these ridiculous management and leadership styles that go beyond the command and control. "Infantilization is a pattern of behaviour in which the person in charge treats competent adults in a childlike manner. This is often due to the authority figure’s inability to tolerate, manage or control age-appropriate behaviour and growth toward independence." "Command and control leadership is a style of management where a leader makes decisions and gives orders. With absolute authority over subordinates, little input or autonomy is given. The leader is there to direct and guide the team with specific goals."


Command and control is the army whilst the kindergarten is the corporate world. Don't confuse the two. 


Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!:




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