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Strong leadership is the single most important quality that is missing in corporate America today. That’s why, from time to time, I like to bring you new leadership tips and management techniques that I think could help to rebuild our economy, and build our corporations into models of good governance for the rest of the world.
Today’s management technique, pioneered by Bjorn Nordlundson-Ludfisk of the Swedish Institute, is the Stockholm School of Management (SSM). It is based largely on the psychological syndrome of the same name. As part of his research, Dr. Nordlundson-Ludfisk came to realize that the syndrome that causes nearly a third of hostages to experience sympathetic feelings towards their captors, could easily be exploited by those in corporate management to gain control of an unruly mob of employees. Stockholm Syndrome, also known as Capture Bonding, is generally the accidental outcome of an hostile imprisonment, however, using Nordlundson-Ludfisk’s techniques, you can replicate the results of a violent hostage standoff without ever stepping from behind your desk!
I’ve reprinted my own translation of an excerpt from Nordlundson-Ludfisk’s research below:
1. Announce Your Presence and Take Control of the Environment. In a hostage situation, this step usually entails firing a weapon at the ceiling and screaming for everyone to get on the floor with their hands on the back of their heads while you send your henchmen around to lock the doors. While this action would most likely work just fine in a corporate environment, many companies now have rules against firearms in the workplace and we find that a more passive-aggressive approach can be just as effective. For example, a simple, well-timed memo indicating that “many exciting changes will be taking place in the near future”, often has the same panic-inducing effect and is much less physically dangerous.
2. Make Your Demands. Typically, hostage takers make their demands known to the authorities who have surrounded the theater of operations, however, in an interesting twist, within the corporate environment these demands are made not to outside authorities, but to the hostages/employees themselves. This has the effect of empowering the employee’s sense of self determination, while simultaneously destroying their ego, an important step in activating the syndrome in certain individuals.
(Best practices include beginning your list with completely outrageous, if not logically impossible, demands. This has the effect of ‘anchoring’ the demands, so that any that come after the first few seem downright reasonable and are sure to garner a few supporters. Examples in hostage taking include; helicopters, gassed-up jumbo jets, or a date with Angelina Jolie. In a corporate scenario, these initial demands lean more toward “being more aggressively assertive while continuing to run all really important decisions up the ladder.”)
3. Shoot a Hostage or Two. It’s sad, but most hostage negotiations will turn sour at some point and you will need to eliminate a few hostages in order to assure the authorities that you are indeed serious about your demands. The corporate application is significantly more humane. We recommend selecting a few of the most troublesome employees, those who have openly questioned your authority, pointed out your logical fallacies, or have the support of a large contingent of fellow employees and fire them without warning. This will both eliminate strong-willed individuals and cause any seditiously-minded folks to seriously rethink their position.
4. Step Back and Wait for Stockholm Syndrome to Kick In. This is the most difficult step for young hostage takers/corporate managers to learn. Too often, they get antsy and become desperate to make something happen, but if you’ve executed the first three steps correctly, then it’s only a matter of time before nearly a third of your workforce begins to appreciate your strong arm tactics, welcome your parental guidance, and pray for your continued good health, wealth, and prosperity.
The genius of the Stockholm School of Management is that once you achieve 30% of your workforce obeying your every command, then you simply begin again at step one by issuing a memo announcing that “many exciting changes will be taking place in the near future.” The appearance of the second memo will cause at least half of the non-obeying employees to quit on the spot, bringing your Unquestioning Employee Obedience Rate to at least 50%. Repeating the SSM technique a few more times will ensure total compliance with your every whim.