Controlling Bosses and the Kevin Rudd story


Kevin Rudd has the reputation as being a control freak. Putting aside the ‘big Australia’ blunder, I thought the policy agenda he was driving was generally sensible. His apology to the stolen generations was particularly moving. So what de-railed him, when he had enjoyed so much support for the directions in which he was taking Australia? Any number of issues, especially when you offend the mining industry, whether on climate change or taxation.
I was interested to read a recent Harvard Business Review alert on controlling bosses. It seems that people who deeply value their autonomy and freedom will react negatively to even an unconscious memory of a controlling person. Known in psychological literature as ‘reactant’s, individuals who love their freedom, may “do anything to protect it.” So it may be that when his popularity fell so dramatically, the former Prime Minister was particularly exposed to Cabinet dissatisfaction with his management style. On the other hand, this may be pure fantasy on my part. However, I do think the deposing of Kevin Rudd is of great interest from a management perspective and perhaps over time we will read more about it.

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