Turn Poor Leadership Ratings Into Amazing Ratings
Have you ever met a person who seems like they are probably a great leader, but their staff says horrible things about them? Then you think, “Maybe it’s just a few people’s opinions,” or you think, “Sure, you can’t please everyone and it’s not a leader’s job to be friends.” Yet, you see an overwhelming pattern of scathing opinions of that leader’s abilities. So, you widen your sample, get more details, talk to people who are senior managers under that leader, get the lowdown from current employees, dig up opinions from past employees, chat with vendors, and so on. However, the poll only tips further toward horrible reviews for that leader. Well, this is a leader, and an organization ensnared in what I call the Semantic Bear Trap of Bad Leadership.
What is the Semantic Bear Trap of Bad Leadership you should be asking right now? Well, consider that leaders often have short tenures and are under intense scrutiny. It is natural to ponder if the very nature of leadership makes it impossible to, “blow people’s minds from one’s leadership style and results,” because you have to judge people and make tough decisions that help some and hurt others. Maybe, being a leader means inevitably you are stepping into a bear trap because some will like or love you while others may dislike or even hate you.
It makes you wonder what is going on with bad leaders and their companies, and how can they be converted into amazing performers? Taking an out of touch, poor communicating, and ill-regarded leader and turning them into an amazing leader is absolutely possible. There is a catch, though. That leader has to whole-heartedly admit he or she needs help, and be willing to dig deep into why they are the way that they are. Plus, they need to seriously dig into how their staff feels and why. My experience shows less than 15% of “bad leaders” are willing to genuinely take these steps. Also, working with some leaders who were “encouraged” by investors and Board members to undergo the attempt to transition from being despised by staff to being loved is a recipe for a disastrous waste of time. A person has to want this on his or her own and not be pushed into it.
It is sad to see culture and morale decimated by poor leadership. Some leaders are blind to their faults and think of themselves as just being, “tough,” “focused,” or “guarded toward their staff for good reason.” Look at it like this, though; remember being in school and having those rare teachers whom you loved, learned a great deal from, and being in their class was pure joy, so you wanted to work harder? I have always said that it is unacceptable we do not have an education system producing predominately these kinds of teachers. After all, teachers are leaders of youth. Hell, who would not want the majority of teachers to be amazing! After all, don’t these teachers owe it to the students and parents to achieve stellar results by making young people yearn to learn? So here is the deal, your business leader is supposed to be like that amazing teacher you will always cherish. If you are the leader then this is what you be striving to be.
The good news is there is a cure for bad leadership. If you are a bad leader or any leader short of amazing, then take notes here. If you are an investor, Board member, or employee of a subpar leader then take notes too, and share this article. Maybe just leave this article anonymously on your leader’s desk if you’re an employee worried about repercussions.
With all the talk about bad leadership, let’s define what it looks like, other than just poor morale, lackluster branding, sagging sales, and diminished profits.
21-Traits of bad leadership
Confidence is low
It is all about them
Displays low integrity
Authenticity is slacking
Micromanage too much
Poorly compensate staff
Take more than they give
Being guarded is their style
Passing the buck is standard
Transparency is not their style
They over talk and do not listen
Inconsistency is their reputation
Over promises and under delivers
Blind to the strengths of their team
The vision for the business is unclear
Not self-aware, thus does not improve
Follow through on what they say is rare
Lacks trust in others so little trust is given
Un-inclusive of people’s ideas and opinions
Forgets to praise people and give coaching feedback
Works many hours but accomplishes little real value
Here is the cure to take poor leaders and turn them into amazing leaders. Follow these steps in sequential order.
11-Steps to go from bad to amazing leadership
- Start by learning these 21-traits of bad leadership, self admit where you will seek to improve, and continually work to be amazing.
- Publically announce your goal to go from being bad to an amazing leader because commitment and accountability, as well as buy-in from your staff, is vital to get started.
- Get honest feedback from all the stakeholders, which include prospects and customers.
- Give honest feedback to all the stakeholders, which include prospects and customers.
- Sincerely apologize for your mistakes and bad behaviors after getting feedback and you know what to apologize for.
- Establish a formal improvement plan to enhance your people skills, and other capabilities to raise your leadership performance along with any other business skills necessary.
- Commit to a new regime of open communications using the Renaissance Methodology communication process and adopt multiple modes of communications (Such as; quarterly town halls, frequent video calls, bi-weekly state of affairs emails, regularly occurring management meetings and intertwine various staff into meetings).
- Become a hands-on coach to actively improve the business and help guide your people as opposed to just telling them what to do.
- Be the ambassador of your company’s culture (Get out in the trenches, tour the market, shake hands, ask good questions, listen to people, & repeat back what you hear to get it right).
- Encourage others to step up their performance to be amazing by asking what they can do better to help customers, their team, and the organization.
- Take on performance metrics for yourself that you make visible, and do the same for every person and team using The Theory of Accelerance, to create the culture that “Everyone is in it to win in together.”
Two common questions I get asked about implementing these 11-steps
First question, how long should this process take? The answer, prepare for a minimum of a 12 to 24 months effort. As long as visible and measurable progress is being made along the way then the process should continue. Undoubtedly, becoming an amazing leader is hard, but worth it.
Second question, what if these 11-steps fail? The answer, then I strongly suggest replacing this leader as soon as a viable new leader can be secured. If the situation is dire then don’t hesitate and take that person off the chessboard immediately, allowing an interim executive to fill in.
The bottom line on blowing people’s minds with leadership
After speaking to business crowds about becoming amazing leaders and building amazing organizations this resounding comment often arises, “Wow, is that all you have to do to be a great leader…” Instantly, I laugh out loud when someone says this. My retort is the same every time, “Yes, that’s all you have to do to be Ahh-Mazing! But, don’t be fooled. If it were as easy as it sounds then entrepreneurs would rarely fail, the stock market would climb to new heights daily, and you would likely be on your private jet right now, instead of listening to me. However, it takes a humble, unselfish, and tireless pursuit to master these 11-steps. So, what makes you think you can do it?” Usually, after the awkward silence that I patiently lean into ends, the person will smile and nod or mumble, “Yes that makes sense.” So, I say to you now, what I conclude many leadership-coaching sessions with, “I dare you to take these steps seriously.”