Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink, says that “we learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instructions”.
To illustrate this point I would like to carry out an experiment with you. Think back to the time you supervised someone for the first time. It could be recent or many years ago. Honestly, how did that work out for you? I bet that with the responsibilities and added stresses in this new role your default management style was similar to your then or previous supervisor’s management style? So your first management role was either a success or a disaster?
Whether you like it or not, you subconsciously mimic your superior’s behaviour. You follow their lead and depending on how influential or dominant they are, you often fall into the trap of becoming a “mini-me”. An unwritten rule develops that certain behaviours are tolerated within the organisation, whether they are good or bad, and a “that’s how things are managed around here” culture develops. It gets passed on from one manager to another through direct experience and example setting. Incorrect behaviour is justified and made acceptable, just because a superior behaved in that manner.
Remember that you are not just influenced by your direct superiors, but you also influence the people you are suppose to manage, lead and support.