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Leadership Is Not A Punchlist

He is bright, committed to being an effective leader, open to coaching and feedback and highly educated. Kind of the ideal type of person you want to help learn and grow. He is struggling with one "mental block"; to him leadership is a punch list of things to do that, when completed, makes you a leader.

When interacting with his manager, HR business partner, me as a consultant and with his team he can articulate his intentions and encourage others to offer feedback. Check off box #1. He delegates once he has confidence in an employee's ability. Check off box #2. He thinks strategically and explains goals. There goes box #3. And so it continues

Unfortunately he often fails to see the difference between what he says and what he does. He encourages differing views but then explains why the person's logic is flawed and why his is the "right logic." He talks about mutual respect but in multi-departmental meetings openly criticizes others on relatively minor issues. He encourages collaboration within his team and across teams but often causes his employees to "get caught in the crossfire" of conflict he himself creates with his peers in those departments. He explains his actions as being a proactive advocate and taking a stand. Check box #4.

He asks people to be patient with his development efforts but then shows impatience when others are slow to learn or make decisions. He has a bias for action. Box #5 taken care of; but often pushes people to make concessions in order to take those actions, leaving them feeling disenfranchised or minimized. "They need to recognize my passion and dedication", is how he rationalizes his behavior.

Now, when he receives candid 360 survey feedback that can help him understand the experience he creates for others and learn from it, his immediate reactions are: "But I am doing all the things I have read about good leadership" and "People misunderstand what I am trying to do."

Our advice to him: scrap the punch list, pack the books away and let people help you understand what it is like to work with and for you. That is the beginning of effective leadership.

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