The Dean’s Disease: How the Darker Side of Power Manifests Itself in the Office of Dean

The Dean’s disease in my opinion is not just a problem in the academic world with deans.  This can and does happen in the workplace all the time.  Managers get stuck in this warped sense of power and they use this power to get what they want and some of the time they don’t even know they are doing this.  They are able to influence the people under them because the people under them are in constant fear.  This is just how dean’s influence the faculty under them by controlling the resources of the faculty.  Managers, higher-ups, and deans all use two main things to keep their control.  They use “Coercive power and Reward power.”  The Coercive power that they use is basically the fear they instill in the people under them by either threatening to fire them or showing them how “dumb” they are or just by belittling them.  The Reward power is the simple power of being in control of what the employee’s or faculty under them takes home, i.e. their salary.

All this described in the previous paragraph creates a sort of protected cocoon that deans live in.  They do not have a clue what is going on because they have isolated themselves because of their power and the separation it has caused.  They create what the article called “doppelgangers” because people are afraid to do what they want or think is right to do because of fear.  This doesn’t allow the dean to ever get the truth as to what is actually happening in their college.  This eventually creates an inner-circle and in this circle the truth is always sugar coated for the dean.  This explains the dean’s seemingly always “positive” attitude towards the college they are working for.  People around the dean get stuck in this circle and without any outside accomplishments on their own.  This creates a circle of “yes-sayers” because they lack the personal experience.  This only creates positive feedback and it is a viscous circle.  Not only does this cause a very unhealthy circle around the dean it starts to make the deans “head grow.”  They start to think that they are the ones that have accomplished all of this good all on their own.   This does not help growth or new ideas to be presented.  The only way a new idea can enter the “circle” is if the dean comes up with an idea but this keeps them in the past.

The dean starts to get a very warped sense of reality.  They start to believe that they do not have to follow the same set of rules that the others have to.  This is the case where their power has overcome and consumed them.  This eventually creates a sense of insecurity in the dean and consequently the dean starts to surround themselves with incompetent people that are non-threatening.  This will directly affect the college or institution that they are working at because they do not have the proper people in the places that they should be in.

All this is very negative but with the negative there can always be some positive.  There is ways of preventing this from happening in ones own workplace.  The first place of prevention is always the hiring process.  When in the position to hire it is the job of that person to seek out the signs of this power hungry person and don’t hire them.  In my opinion in all cases of employees not performing it can always be prevented in the hiring process.  In the case of the dean or a manager look out for the ones that use “I” when talking about their past accomplishments.  When they say I a lot they are showing that they do not work well in a team environment and or they like to take all the credit for what was accomplished.  The article also talked about some safeguards that can help prevent this from happening to a dean and if it does start to happen some ways of counteracting this.  Their was a great point brought up in the article about years of experience.  It basically stated that just because a person has many years of experience does not mean that the experience is useful.  If all the person did for all those years was the same thing it does them no good and there is no difference between one year and twenty in this case.

In conclusion, the “Dean’s Disease” can plague us all in our workplace.  The idea is to try to seek it out before the person gets consumed by it and eventually hurts the company by it.  Always keep a close eye out for the power hungry people in one’s organization and if at all possible get rid of it.


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