Thursday, April 4, 2013

Do You Lead Negatively?

A powerful tool in executive coaching is the 360 assessment. Anonymous feedback from the leader's direct reports as well as others who work with the leader are powerful conversation starters.

Here are a few anonymous comments from past assessments in my files that raise red flags.

- She points the way, but doesn’t support her followers.
- He only knows how to make demands. He doesn’t know how to express faith in people. 

- She leads by fear.
- Weak on encouragement. Very judgmental.
- Always needs to be in control. Lacks confidence in the people she manages
- Comes to meetings with is his mind made up.

There seem to be three major categories for "negative leadership."

The Power personality: Always with the team and always in control.
- Demands respect, tyrant, inflexible, restrictive, perfectionist

- Rule oriented rather than people oriented, command and control, her way or no way
- Loves and recruits “yes-men” and keeps them close at hand
- Low self-esteem and low in confidence, roadblocks to connecting with others
- Workaholic and expects others to do the same
Team outcome: tired, uncreative, low morale

The Flash personality: The “helicopter” leader drops in to check on the team.
- Swoops in to make suggestions, leads with assumptions, laissez-faire
- Doesn’t listen to ideas suggestions or take questions (or limits questions)
- Behaves differently in front of superiors
Team outcome: instability, poor productivity, team members don’t see a future

The Ego personality: There is an “I” in team and its me!
- Has all the answers, needs to be right, Teflon coated so if there is a problem it’s not his fault
- Insincere, exploitative, arrogant, narcissistic
- Shows favoritism, may lack integrity
- Emotional insecurity, lack of conscience
Team outcome: distrust, tension and stress, team members make sure their butts are covered!

All three of these types have a bad reputation. I am not sure any of these negative leaders are coach-able. They are candidates for counseling because there are deeper issues involved. Counseling will only work if they acknowledge their bad leadership and want to change.

Ideally, these “leaders” need to realize they lead and act poorly. They need to learn to dial back and become adaptable. Overcoming negative leadership requires taking the hit and also giving credit where credit is due. Most of all, they must learn to think of others, use emotional intelligence and practice the Golden Rule. 

The man who stops by the negative leader’s office to dust and empty the trash, he is part of the team and should be treated with kindness, courtesy and compassion. Take time to get to know him. He may hold a great idea that creates a positive bottom line! 

If you were have those who report to you and those you work with fill out a 360 assessment on you, what do you think the feedback would say?