It is often said that an employee who leaves a company is leaving their leader, not the company. Because leaders and their employees are in a power relationship, any corrective feedback often remains unspoken until the exit interview, or perhaps is never spoken at all. And in truth, most leaders do not intend to be dysfunctional, they just have blindspots that the power relationship prevents from being illuminated.
So let’s shed light on the offending behaviors. We’ve ranked them in a rough order of their impact on employees, and here’s the results from less (yet still important) to most impactful:
Number 10: Personalizing – they take everything personally. A critique of their project becomes a personal criticism; suggestions for improvement are received as judgments; they have an emotional hair trigger that is pulled when an employee unwittingly crosses an invisible line. Working with such leaders is akin to waltzing in an emotional minefield.
Number 9: Excessive affiliation – they focus on including everyone, especially the less emotionally developed — and squander their leadership time on the most needy rather than supporting those who can make the greatest contribution to performance. This redirects the organization to internal process issues and feelings and away from external challenges and business goals.
Number 8: Pseudo- tolerance – accepting a range of employee behaviors under the guise of valuing diversity as a rationalization for avoiding dealing with poor performance. They avoid challenging and holding their employees accountable.
Number 7: Agility without resilience – chameleon-like, they change color to fit in with their organizational environment. They show extreme allegiance to their bosses; frequently passive-aggressive behavior towards their peers; and often swing between avoiding and demanding behavior towards their employees.
Number 6: Subjectivity – as important as it is to be aware of one’s own feelings and to demonstrate empathy – the understanding of what matters to others – a primary aim of a leader is to establish business goals and motivate others to achieve them. This means addressing how an employee needs to act in relation to an external challenge. Great leaders redirect others from their subjective concerns to the company’s objective goals and how they can achieve them. Dysfunctional leaders dwell in the underworld of subjectivity, sympathizing when others claim they are victims, and sometimes enjoying soaking in it themselves. They love drama.
Number 5: Polished perfection – they (attempt to) present their perfect self — complete with stories, anecdotes and a resume that shows no warts. They expect others to be like themselves. They can’t remember a time when they made a mistake.
Number 4: Rights mentality – their focus is more on their rights than on their responsibilities. They are quick to point out how others have violated their rights and are prone to anger and defensiveness.
Number 3: Political – they rarely if ever take a stand on principle; and quickly adjust their beliefs to conform to the latest trend. What do they really stand for? Who knows …
Number 2: Risk aversion – They work within known boundaries, protect themselves against feedback, and seek to maintain the status quo.
And finally, Number 1: Unpredictability – these leaders have little control over their emotions, and they blow hot and cold. This behavior extinguishes their employees’ initiative and risk-taking, quickly spawns confusion and cautiousness, and ultimately dumbs down the organization.
If you have a leader who consistently shows most or all of these behaviors, you have a selection issue.
If your leaders show some of these behaviors intermittently and have the desire to improve, you have a coaching and development issue.
We can help with both.
Call us to set up a 15 minute discussion on how we can help your leaders change their mindset from a static and subjective “status quo” perspective to a dynamic objective performance mentality.