All Articles Leadership Workforce Are you, as a leader, suffering from BMS?

Are you, as a leader, suffering from BMS?

Leaders of any gender or era can suffer from BMS -- boomer male syndrome -- if they rely on old-school tactics of command and control, says S. Chris Edmonds.

3 min read


Video transcript:

Are your organization’s leaders pushing for employees to get back into the office? Zoom, the video conferencing giant, recently announced a policy change that requires employees who live near a company office to be on-site two days a week.  Google, Amazon and Salesforce have enacted similar policies in the last few months.

KPMG’s 2023 CEO Outlook study might provide some insight. They found that 64% of CEOs believe there will be a full return to the office by 2026 and that 87% of CEOs are likely to reward employees who come into the office with favorable assignments, raises and promotions. These leaders discount the significant benefits for employees (like job satisfaction, better health and less stress) and significant benefits for employers (including better results, decreased turnover and reduced absenteeism). 

What beliefs are behind this return-to-work demand for so many companies? We believe these beliefs are grounded in a common malady: Many senior leaders suffer from BMS: boomer male syndrome. BMS sufferers can be identified by their reliance on industrial age leadership beliefs, practices and behaviors. 

In our book, “Good Comes First,” co-author Mark Babbitt and I introduce this concept, noting that not every BMS sufferer is a boomer or a male. BMS-afflicted leaders ensure that every leader they hire — women, people of color, etc. — behaves as they do.

BMS-afflicted senior leaders lack empathy and vulnerability, fail to show curiosity about how to make their work culture better and demonstrate the inability to build mutually beneficial relationships with fellow leaders, employees and even customers.

One additional red flag: BMS sufferers don’t trust that employees are really working hard when they’re remote. They want control — and they believe making employees come back to the office is a means to wield that control. Gen-Z players will not tolerate BMS practices.

The first step to curing BMS requires that senior leaders step back and observe the impact their old-school practices have on relationships, results and respect across their work cultures.  The second step to curing BMS requires senior leaders to treat others with respect and validation, no matter where they work.

Don’t let BMS sufferers crush your work culture.


S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker and author as well as executive consultant, founder and CEO with The Purposeful Culture Group. He has authored or co-authored seven books, including two Amazon bestsellers: “The Culture Engine” and “Good Comes First” with Mark Babbitt. Edmonds’ videos, posts and podcasts are available at Driving Results Through Culture. Follow Edmonds on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Apple Podcasts.

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 


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