7 Reasons Managers Move to the Dark Side

Darth Vader wasn’t always a mysterious meanie, the Grinch’s heart didn’t start out two sizes too small, and as legend has it, Mr. Scrooge was once a charming and likable fellow.

Chances are that jerk in your office didn’t start out as a horse’s behind either. So why do so many managers move to the dark side–putting their Winning Well common sense aside and becoming a destructive force for their teams?

7 Reasons Managers Move to the Dark Side

It doesn’t happen all at once. The gradual unravelling happens for a variety of reasons. You can help prevent this tragic demise by recognizing these signs.

  1. Fear: The move to the dark side often begins with a fear of speaking up for what’s right. Managers figure it’s safer to lay low and let it go. Failure to stop the wrong behaviors, condones them and feeds the dark force.
  2. Insecurity: “If I act tough, no one will see how scared I am.” It’s impossible to manage well if you’re wrestling with your own self-doubt.
  3. Incompetence: “Fake it till you make it,” is a terrible approach to management. Far better to play to your strengths and get the support you need in other arenas.
  4. Greed: If it’s all about you, your team will see right through.
  5. Scarcity Mindset: “There’s not enough _______ (resources, bonus money, promotions) to go around.” The behaviors that mindset drives are self-fulfilling. When you don’t invest…in training, tools, relationships…you stifle the growth you could have achieved with a more generous spirit.
  6. Drunk on Power: Relying on position to get things done may be efficient, but drains the life-force out of otherwise effective employees.
  7. Misunderstood Role Models: A lot of times leaders get to their positions DESPITE a bad habit or two. Don’t emulate poor behavior because you think it will help you get ahead.

To gain a better understanding of these dark side behaviors, I’m was delighted to grab a few minutes with this Sith Lord, when he was in town promoting his latest flick.

Leading through Influence: A Frontline Festival

 

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seeds of either success or failure in the mind of another. – Napoleon Hill

Chantal Bechervaise of Take It Personel-ly shares that one way for leaders to make a positive change and influence is to put their people first–to move from a mindset of ‘me’ to a mindset of ‘you’ or ‘we’ and focus on what their teams and employees need to be successful instead of their own needs and wants. Follow Chantal.

We sometimes underestimate the influence we have via our social media channels. In this post, Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited takes an inward look at the kind of social media manager she would hire–to run her personal pages for good. Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership calls influence a boss’s super power. Use it wisely and for good. Follow Wally.

Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks reminds that until you are trusted, your influence will be significantly limited. Learn how to build trust at work over time by using direct communication and consistently delivering results. Follow Bruce.

The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits. – Dan Buettner

Liza Heidelberger of MyLeaderSphere asks “How do you build influence in a high stakes meeting when you’ve never had the chance to first develop a relationship?” She provides a formula to “microwave relationships” when the pressure is on. Follow Liza.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement has an intriguing take. He shares, that to improve the management of our organizations does not require discovering new ideas never thought of before. What we need to do is use our influence to systemically adopt good practices that have been known for decades (but are rarely seen in most organizations today). Follow John.

Kirsten Jepson of Sykes Enterprises shares that Leading by influence is both the same and different than leading direct reports. Here are the 5 Keys to success. Follow Kirsten.

In the post, Why your way of leading isn’t working, Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares that the higher up the food chain you go in an organization, the more your job is not about doing specific tasks. It’s about influencing. Influence is the key to getting things done, getting your ideas across, and honestly, getting ahead, and Lisa shares specific tips on influencing effectively. Follow Lisa.

Dan McCarthy of About.com Management and Leadership notes that the ability to influence and work collaboratively becomes even more important as a leader takes on more and more responsibility and the organization grows. Collaboration is no longer a “nice to do,” it’s a leadership requirement needed to get results and advance in any organization. Follow Dan.

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another. – George Eliot

If you want to have more influence at home, at work, or anywhere, there is one key…love. Across time, research has proven that this single thing is the secret to great influence. Thanks, Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting. Follow Matt.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference relays that leading across generations requires setting an example. The 2015 Millennial Impact Report suggests Millennials have a giving mindset and are converting their influence to action. Follow Jon.

According to Jeff Miller of The Faithful Pacesetters, when a leader is fulfilling their call, they find gratification. This fulfillment is not a result based on power, but by the positive influence they can be to others. Follow Jeff.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership provides an examination of the motivating factors of obligation and commitment and how one of them can help leaders to promote the best in those they lead. Follow Tanveer.

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com reminds us that we influence others by our actions. If they see us come to the table without excuses; they will too! Leaders go first! Follow Michelle.

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about influence, impact, and inspiration. – Robin S. Sharma

Skip Prichard of Leadership Insights asks, “Do you know the 5 principles of influence? Whether persuading a child to eat broccoli or negotiating a multi-million dollar deal, it’s important to know how to influence. Bestselling author Bob Burg of the Go-Giver shows how to influence others with power. Follow Skip.

FBI agents are rarely described as warm and fluffy, but neither are they the snarly, snarky shoot-from-the-hip of investigators often depicted on TV and in the movies. The reason is simple: there is a technique to winning an argument or calming down an individual to the point where they not only see reason, but agree to cooperate with an FBI investigation. Thanks LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center! Follow LaRae.

Each of these “8 Portals of Influence” are doorways to non-authority based leadership. Developing each of these portals increases your ability to lead across reporting line. But as Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership says, “When we shift from authority-based to influence-based leadership, we have to accept that we are not always in control. However, the reality is that we actually never were.” Follow Jesse Lyn.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context says that without tools for handling complex challenges, people may make more mistakes than they need to. Some of those mistakes can be costly to the leader’s future and the organization’s reputation. Follow Linda.

Call for Submissions. The August Frontline Festival is about Effective Communications. Please send your submissions no later than August 14.  New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

Leaders Share about New Beginnings, Fresh Starts, and Project Launches: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our June Festival is all about new beginnings, fresh starts, and project launches. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about leading through influence. How do you lead when you don’t have direct authority?  New contributors welcome.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – Senec

New beginnings and fresh starts are sometimes motivated by the desire to grow as a person. Which of these “A-Z” characteristics do you most want to enliven in yourself? Thanks, Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited  Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership says that when you’re starting a new project, it’s tempting to think you can plan the error out of it. Think again.  Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC shares that often the expression, “Chasing bright shiny objects” refers to them as distractions, and advocates to take a different perspective. Think of bright shiny objects as a source of energy or refreshment, such as the new car smell or getting a new bicycle!  Follow Michelle.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding says that new beginnings and fresh starts can be exciting and fun, or signify a painful ending, or make you shake as you leave your comfort zone. But, yes, you can turn unwanted change into an adventure!   Follow Chery.

According to John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement, innovation is one of the areas of management improvement that is not given sufficient attention.  To do so successfully we need to truly know our customers, have constancy of purpose, know our business and understand our purpose.  Follow John.

In the post, Five key questions that can help you start anew, Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares that the chance for a new beginning is almost always welcome, and always a chance to reflect and refresh. Follow Lisa.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference asks, “What if we stop settling for employee engagement and aim for employee activism instead?” Breathe new life into’s your organization’s community by leading a team of activists for your cause! Follow Jon.

Jeff Miller of The Faithful Pacesetters shares that it is sometimes a challenge to start something new, especially when you are met with resistance.  Peter believed, sacrificed, and had determination when he built the Church. Follow Jeff.

From Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting: “Launching a project is a great first step…but if you’re like many of the people I coach, you’re bigger problem is finishing them.” This post will show you how to stop leaving projects half-finishedFollow Matt.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership reminds us that fresh starts are important, but stay attuned to your purpose. Barbara Bennett, the first female officer of Stanley Black & Decker and one of the first women to break the glass ceiling retired and became a clown. Here’s why that wasn’t as big of a change as you might think. Follow Jesse Lyn. 

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center shares that self-improvement is not a course in miracles. It is something that takes hard work. Perhaps the real secret to becoming a better person is coming to grips with the fact that everyone has to work “hard, very hard” to become the person they know they can be. Follow LaRae.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context points out that on the journey to ethical leadership, we all struggle. This struggle is often seen as negative–something that pulls us down and keeps us from succeeding. But what if we looked at it another way? Follow Linda.

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute knows that fresh starts and new beginnings start with discovering the leader within. This blog offers practical guidance for developing your leadership skills and making an impact in the world. Follow Artika.

And Larry Coppenrath brings it all together with his Frontline Festival map.

New Beginnings   Fresh Starts  Product Launches

Call for Submissions. The July Frontline Festival is about leading through influence. Please send your submissions no later than July 17th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

 

 

Energize your leadership

Experts Chime in on "Energizing Leadership:" A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our May Festival is all about energizing leadership. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors, ! Next month’s Festival is all about beginnings, fresh starts, and launching well. New contributors welcome.

Energizing Ourselves

We often plough so much energy into the big picture, we forget the pixels. – Silvia Cartwright

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership tells us time off is good for you and your team. Set the example, by taking breaks, building downtime into your schedule, and taking time off regularly. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC  asks “Who motivates the motivator?” Leadership is like that. Who does the leader follow to evolve into the optimum model to follow? Leadership must be renewed from within. Follow Michelle.

Every time Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks  reads Getting Things Done, he grows. In this post, he explains four ways GTD enhance’s a leader’s skills and capability. After all, who wants to follow a confused and disorganized leader? Follow Bruce.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding posits that leadership is all about connections, and connections create energy–and that those connections are especially meaningful when they happen in unlikely places and with complete strangers…   Follow Chery.

Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting points out that sometimes leaders spend more time focusing on their weaknesses and blind spots, rather than on their strengths. We often compare ourselves to others instead of seeing our unique gifts and abilities. When we do recognize our talents, we can shine as leaders.  Follow Terri.

Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders Blog presents Have you had your sabbatical yet? where she shares that taking “mini-sabbaticals” weekly, or even daily, helps to cleanse your mind, refresh your spirit, and focus on things other than your work – so that you can bring your best to your work, your leadership, and your life overall. Follow Lisa.

Hoda Maalouf of International Leadership Blogathon describes how leading with heart energizes leaders as much as it does the led, mainly because heart-based leaders enjoy what they do and follow an inner call.  Follow Hoda.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership advises that the ability to generate energy consistently over time has the power to elevate you to your potential as a leader. If you need a boost, looking to your core values is a great place to start. Follow Susan.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference reminds us that energizing others begins with energizing the self. When you deeply know your values and gifts, the next step is bringing that true self outward – with authenticity and honesty. Follow Jon.

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation Jennifer V. Miller read the book “Energize Your Leadership!” and was given a boost by the personal leadership stories from 16 different authors. Read her take-aways at 16 Stories to Energize Your LeadershipFollow Jennifer.

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com shares that “Trust is how I feel in my gut about what you will do with my gift (ideas, knowledge, feelings) when I share a piece of myself.” Follow Michelle.

Ever had a physical or emotional crash? Leadership Coach Julie Pierce of Empowered by Pierce talks about how to prevent and recover from this common leadership experience. Follow Julie.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  offers, “Just like you edit your writing, you can edit your personal leadership to re-energize and create stronger results.”   Follow Alli.

For Lalita Raman of LalitaRaman.com, identifying and connecting to her vision, helped her energize her brand and what she does. Follow Lalita.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center tells us that successful people are those who are good at Plan B. Why? Because by trying and failing, we learn what doesn’t work—and with that comes the knowledge we need to understand what will. Follow LaRae.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context reminds us that our future success is in the hands of our leaders. They will be the ones to tackle the seemingly unsolvable problems of the future. Are they ready? Follow Linda.

Energizing Others

We have no hope of solving our problems without harnessing the diversity, the energy and the creativity of all our people. – Roger Wilkins

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited suggests that play and fun are necessary to energize ourselves and our staff and provides an engaging and simple team building activityFollow Beth.

Dr. Crystal Davis of Lead. From. Within.  shares that servant-Leaders who focus on serving rather than being served energize and renew people’s loyalty and commitment to an organization. Energizing leaders listen authentically and are concerned with the others through the full range of knowledge, skills, emotional, and behavioral dynamics. Follow Crystal.

Susan Fowler  of SusanFowler.com gives us tips on how to energize employees to preform at their highest level because they themselves want to genuinely thrive, not because there might be “something in it” for them to do well right now. Follow Susan.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement encourages us to build a culture with respect for people that encourages joy in work and builds intrinsic motivation.  Don’t try to motivate with extrinsic motivation gimmicks.  Follow John.

Dan McCarthy of About.com Management & Leadership  asks “What’s the single most important measure of an effective one-on-one? Make sure they leaved more energized than when they came in!” Follow Dan.

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting asks, “What is encouragement and what is it not?” and provides six ways build others up and grow your influence as a leaderFollow Matt.

Tony Vengrove of Miles Finch Innovation says, “There’s no silver bullet for making innovation “happen” or leading any other worthy endeavor. Leading innovation and change is a circuitous journey filled with hard work, patience, and persistence–it requires a spirit of whatever it takes.” Follow Tony.

Call for Submissions. The June Frontline Festival is about beginnings, fresh starts, and launching well. Please send your submissions no later than June 20th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

In other news:

energizing leadersI’m excited to share that April 20th marked the release of a collaborative book, Energize Your Leadership, written by 16 thought leaders (many of whom are active contributors to this Festival.) Read the story of our collaboration here AND View the trailer.

Professor Lupin on Facing Your Fears #confidenthumility

Our biggest leadership screw-ups are fear in disguise. Fears have a powerful and dangerous habit of shape shifting into a monster that stands in our way, blocking the behaviors we most need for success.

Mike’s arrogant approach and intimidating demeanor is covering up his biggest fear–that the team will discover he’s not really an expert. The team talks about him constantly–about his horrible leadership–and avoids interaction. His fear wins.

John doesn’t start the blog he’s always wanted to write for fear of being irrelevant. His fear wins.

Rachel doesn’t share her best practices with her peers, because she wants to be the best and get promoted. She doesn’t get promoted because she’s not a team player. Her fear wins.

When we pretend we’re not afraid, fear wins.

By denying what scares us, our worst characteristics emerge bigger than the demons we fear.

But if we can NAME our fear, and see it for what it truly is–a ridiculous exaggeration of the worse case scenario–we stop the cycle.

We show up stronger, and have the strength to lead from a place of bigger confidence.

No one teaches this better than J.K. Rowling’s Professor Lupin.

Name your fear. Visualize it. Face it. And discover what makes it ridiculous.

I agree with Seth, “the worst trolls are in your head.” Give them a name. Laugh at them. And lead well.

10 Ways to Be Easy to Follow

Are you easy to follow? Before you say “Of course!” please know that every where I go these days, I ask this question. “Is your boss easy to follow?” The #1 response is just a belly ache laugh. The #2 usually contains some expletive. I’ve also heard some great metaphors, like how understanding what their boss thinks is like putting together Ikea furniture. It looks easy when you leave the store (meeting), but when you get back there a lot more screws than you need and the directions are in another language.

Most leaders make following harder than necessary.

10 Ways to Be a Leader Who’s Easy to Follow

1. Be crystal clear

Be sure your team knows the number one mission so well they can say it in their sleep. Sure you’ve got competing goals, but be crystal clear on how your team can change the game, and what you need them to do to make that happen. I recently ran into a guy who once worked on my sales team at Verizon Wireless. He was now working at a small company where I was consulting. He heard I was there, so he walked into a leadership program I was doing to say “Hi.”  We had just finished talking about being crystal clear, so I took a chance. “Eric, back when we worked together, what was the most import goal?” He didn’t miss a beat. “Winning in the SMB space. Everyone needs to get ‘All Aboard’ (which meant every one needed to sell at least five lines a month)” 6 years and another company later, he remembered.

Be that clear and you will be successful.

2. Be approachable

You want them to understand what needs to be done. If they don’t, they’ll spend a lot of time guessing. Be über approachable.

3. Be a teacher

Get in there and show them what to do. You’ll be seen as credible and helpful. Don’t do it for them. Be a teacher.

4. Be forgiving

People want to follow human beings who understand they’re human too. Be forgiving.

5. Be human

Show a little vulnerability. Be clear you don’t have all the answers. People find it easy to emulate people, not rock stars.

6. Be knowledgable

For goodness sake, know what you’re doing. And if you don’t, do everything you can to get smarter on the subject matter quickly. It’s hard to follow a bozo.

7. Be connected

The easiest to follow leaders are those who remove roadblocks by phoning a friend. Have lots of genuine connections to call when your team is need.

8. Be trustworthy

Do what you say. Every time.

9. Be a role model

10. ?

Number 10 is up to you. What would you add?

If you haven’t done this recently ask your team. “What could I do to be easier to follow?” And then be open when she tells about the “damn spreadsheet” that’s making them crazy, or the meetings that suck the life out of them.

Great leaders are easy to follow. Be that guy or gal.

P.S. I’m here to help. Please call 443-750-1249 for a free consultation on how we can make this your team’s best year ever.

This is number five in the series on 7 Ways to Beat the Competition. If you’re just tuning in…

1. Get there early

2. Be an explainer

3. Pay attention to your own game.

4. Help your team get smarter