Guns And Roses
6 OCT , 2015
Last week I intently listened to the interview of a CEO of a Fortune 100 speaking on his company’s strategy to the press; what he said during the interview caught me by surprise. He professed that he was more than happy to attend the retirement parties of his executives who failed to execute the company’s new strategy!
While I’m sure the media lapped up his words with gusto and must surely love him for his tough exterior (as his analysts/board/shareholders), I would give almost anything to know what ran through the minds of his employees having their leader speak about them in an unflattering manner to the press. And while I agree that his statement made for great media and sound bites (that’s how I got to know about this interview), let’s not forget the implications of his words to the actual asset of the company – the employees.
This brings me to an incident which occurred at a workshop I recently attended. One of the participants shared how his reportees were taking him for granted. The facilitator responded by saying that a leader should rightfully know when to hiss; bite and when to be nice. Hmm…easier said than done, don’t you agree? You see, all these qualities do not come in balance and should also NOT to be literally taken. Leadership is not “an act of play”; and we’re only human to NOT be able to have different sets of personalities for different situations. It is only natural for the true behaviour of an individual and a leader (within this context) to stick out most times. I also believe it’s not macho to show that you can bite or even hiss for that matter if you intend to lead. But ‘why’ do you think some of our leaders tend to lead by threat and/or make intimidating statements?
These are my assumptions hence read them with a pinch of salt:
- They do not have meaningful relationships or a coherent style to inspire their employees;
- They do not trust the culture, processes and people of the organisation to run effectively without them;
- Their own personal belief that people work better with a whip than a carrot;
- Lack of empathy for my ex-team members who left in search of better career paths?/li>
- Their personal upbringing where their success must have been ascribed to function under threat all the time.
While it is a great puzzle differentiating styles of genuine persuasion over intimidation, you will be able to distinguish the disparity when you’ve worked with somebody for a certain length of time. Genuinely persuasive leaders will help you achieve more by providing clarity to context; details of a situation; and positive consequences of achievement. On the other hand, intimidators (apt word huh?) would never fail to use off-putting words and phrases such as ‘accountability” and “the door is wide open’, amongst others, to drive home the point.