Strategies and Techniques For Dealing with a Two-Faced Leader on Your Team
When you’re a manager of managers, one of the most important parts of your job is to know the managers on your team are leading well. Which can be tricky. Because every now and then you run into a two-faced leader, who acts one way in your presence, and completely different when you’re not around.
I’ve been there. And it’s not easy, but dealing with this scene is so vital for morale, productivity, employee engagement, and culture.
Two-faced leaders destroy culture, break trust, and diminish results.
Working with a two-faced leader can be frustrating when it’s a peer. But even more terrifying when you realize that Ms. Two-Faced is actually a direct report snowing you with her charm and strategic stories of effective leadership, all the time hiding what’s really going on behind closed doors.
You see human-centered leader with:
- Receptivity to feedback
- Helpful approaches
- Warm engagement
- Inclusive discussions
- Calm and helpful meetings
Her team sees a two-faced leader with:
- Threats and ultimatums
- Mismanaged stress
And if this is going on, chances are her team is too scared to tell you.
5 Ways to Deal with a Suspected Two-Faced Leader
1. Hang around
Show up unexpectedly to see if you can experience the two-faced leader’s behavior first hand. Engage with the team in casual settings where they’re more likely to open up.
2. Conduct skip-level one-on-ones
Talk about the two-faced leaders 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.
Don’t wait until you have files full of evidence about the two-faced leader. Ask questions without confrontation. “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” they are more likely to tell you about the two-faced leader.
Your turn. What advice do you have for a friend dealing with a two-faced leader?
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