The Danger of the Noodle Power Structure
Years ago, I had a set of supervisors whom I would describe as noodles.
A noodle is a people-manager who is rigid in their ways, but breaks very easily. When you put a noodle in metaphorical hot water, they bend and curl up, letting fear and pain drive their choices. They are destined to live their days in boiling broth swimming around in a pathetic loop of hate-fear.
If you’ve ever had a supervisor that’s a noodle, you’ve likely experienced their wrath for things that would get them in trouble with their boss. A noodle has no values of their own, at least none that they can talk about publicly for fear of pissing off their boss, or even appearing to disagree with their boss. It’s this element of corporate culture that makes us want to leave it all behind and start a ski/beach shop somewhere remote.
Of course, it’s easy to understand the need to be agreeable with a boss even if you have a dissenting opinion. They control the appearance of a paycheck after all. But when we buy into that a little too much, it can lead to years of misery. And if we manage people below us, it can lead to years of misery for them. It’s an act of cruelty. But it happens all the time.
We need to break free of this fear-hate loop if we ever want to grow as practitioners. It means taking a stand, pushing back, developing better relationships. After all, isn’t it better to agree with your boss because your visions are aligned?
In other words, do all the stuff that’s hard to do. It’s much easier to be a noodle than it is to decide what we want, to own the choices we make, and to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.