Here we are, winding down another work year, and I thought this might be a good time to look at some food for thought on leadership. Why now? Well, at this time of year there are frequently year-end reviews going on and employees hear from their leadership as to how the employee has performed in the manager’s estimation. Much more rare is the manager hearing from the subordinate with respect to the manager’s performance. I suspect if the worker bees could speak up, they’d talk a fair amount about how the boss lacks interpersonal skills and a sense of mistaking pushing their employees in the right direction for leading them. It’s a critical distinction.
It really boils down to character. Many people get promoted into leadership roles and forget that they didn’t get there by themselves. In fact, they lose sight of the fact that the single greatest skill a boss can possess is, in my opinion, the ability to motivate others in a positive way. Turns out it’s not jut my opinion:
The flaws most commonly tripping up our at-risk leaders were related to failures in establishing interpersonal relationships. Far less frequent were fatal flaws involved in leading change initiatives, driving for results, and — we’re happy to report — character. That might explain how they’d managed to get as far as they had. But past a certain point, individual ambition and results aren’t enough. As they climb higher in an organization and the ability to motivate others becomes far more important, poor interpersonal skills, indifference to other people’s development, and a belief that they no longer need to improve themselves come to haunt these less effective leaders the most.
That’s from the folks at Zenger Folkman who do leadership assessments and training. The good news is that bad leaders can become good ones if they’re willing to accept that they have issues. The biggest of these may be the premise that they are somehow isolated from the team – above them in more than rank. Bad leaders confuse who they are with what they do and substitute a title for earning respect. None of us walk alone in the world and especially not in the work world. Only when we acknowledge that and learn to work with and through others do we reach our full potential.