This leadership mistake is seductive–we know because we’ve been there. It feels good. It feels logical. And it’s the fastest way to stunt your growth as a leader.
Have you ever sat in a leadership meeting or training and thought, “Oh, it’s so good they’re finally talking about ________. So and So (insert your favorite under-performing manager’s name here) needs to hear this.”
We hear that all the time.
- “Karin and David, these tools are great! I just wish my boss was here to hear your message. She really needs your Winning Well tools to be effective.”
- Or “Are you going to do this training with the IT department? They could use a bit of confident humility (and by that I mean humility).”
- Or “You know who makes that leadership mistake all the time? Our CEO.”
We heard it just the other day. We had been part of an all-day leadership offsite. The executive had delivered some tough messages and then brought in several keynote speakers to provide inspiration and tools to help.
She texted us the next day.
“I’m SO frustated. I’m seeing a lot of signs that ‘This message must not have been for me and my team.’ “
The SASRNT Syndrome
One of the perks of being authors is that we get to make up our own syndromes. We call this behavior the SASRNT syndrome, which stands for So And So Really Needs This. It’s often easier to address another’s leadership than to work on your own.
SASRNT syndrome happens when you hear an important message, or learn a new leadership tool, or technique and you think, “Oh you know who needs this? My boss, my colleague, my spouse.” And you run off and encourage them to implement the new idea, before trying it yourself.
Of course that other person – your boss, your colleague, your spouse – may need what you want to share, but think about how you would react if the roles were reversed.
Your employee comes to you and says: “Hey team leader, I think you’d be a much better team leader if only you’d read this book or attend that seminar.” How would you react? Honestly?
If you’re like most people, you’d immediately be on the defensive. None of us like being told we’re not good enough. We resist whenever we feel we’re being sold, even if it is something that would help us.
How to Avoid This Leadership Mistake
We get it. There are tons of poor business leaders out there. The statistics are hard to argue and we see it all the time.
The company we were working with at the offsite had a lot of smart people working very hard and they also have some new challenges that require new perspectives, thinking, and tools.
The minute we start thinking of who else needs the messages, the tools, and the techniques we’re hearing about, we miss an opportunity to grow.
Because at the end of the day, the person you’re in the best position to influence is you.
BE THE LEADER YOU WANT YOUR BOSS TO BE
The most powerful approach is to apply what you’ve learned and to cultivate a pocket of influence and excellence around you.
When your managers treat you poorly, treat your people well. Where your managers tolerate mediocrity, act with and expect excellence. Where they act like victims, empower yourself and your team.
Have compassion for them and for your people. They may not know what you know, but they’re doing what they can. In time, they may even ask you for help.
Lead first, where you are, with what you have. Keep growing. Then invite others to join you on the journey.
You can read more on building pockets of excellence in our book Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul.