How To Expose A Two-Faced Leader

Two-faced leaders destroy culture, break trust, and diminish results. They act one way when you’re around, and another when you’re not. Frustrating when it’s a peer. Terrifying when you discover that Ms. Two-Faced is a leader in your organization.

In front of you she says and does all the right things. At other times, her witchy side emerges. You’ve been naively supporting the two-faced lie.

You see:

  • Receptivity to feedback
  • Helpful approaches
  • Warm engagement
  • Inclusive discussions
  • Calm and helpful meetings

Her team sees:

  • Threats and ultimatums
  • Micro-management
  • Yelling
  • Disorganization
  • Mismanaged stress

Chances are, they’re too scared to tell you.

If you’re a two-faced leader yourself, stop it. It will come out. It always does. If you sense a two-faced terror on your own team, read on.

Exposing a Two Faced Leader

  1. Hang around – Show up unexpectedly. Engage with the team in casual settings where they’re more likely to open up.
  2. Conduct skip level one-on-ones – Talk leadership style. Inquire about support. Ask what they need most. Ask for examples of great leaders. Some brave guys will bring up “two-faced.”  Avoiding the subject is also data.
  3. Conduct a 360 – Ms. two-faced may not fully recognize the differences in style with different audiences. Conduct an assessment, invite candor, and show her the data.  Get her a coach.
  4. Ask her – Don’t wait until you have files full of evidence. Ask questions without confronting. “How would you describe your leadership style? How does that play out in these different contexts?” “What would your team say about you” Watch for body language.
  5. Talk to her peers – They’ve heard the stories, and have felt the repercussions. They didn’t want to throw her under the bus, but “since you asked”