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.
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.
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.
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.
Greed: If it’s all about you, your team will see right through.
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.
Drunk on Power: Relying on position to get things done may be efficient, but drains the life-force out of otherwise effective employees.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 aboutleading 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
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.
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.
We often plough so much energy into the big picture, we forget the pixels. – Silvia Cartwright
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
I’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.
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.
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 everyone 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.
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
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…