Warning: This blog may upset some of you, thus I take no responsibility for your irrational behavior, poor leadership training and the consequences of your actions, as well as whining after reading.
Have you ever had a boss, employee or supervisor that always responded to your “Why” question with “Because I said so” or “Because I am the boss and that’s the way we have always done it?” Or how about the infamous statement of “Do as I say and not as I do?”
What about the leader that leads by duress, anger or segregation of his or her employees; the silent treatment, the stare? You know the person I am talking about; maybe they are in a position that they were promoted to by virtue of an organizational chart or received their position by default because of the death of a peer or a promise made over a beer on a business trip. And lo and behold they are the boss. Or how about the employee that is promoted by the “good ol’ boy” system that has not received any leadership training or coaching and blindly goes through life clueless? The “good ol’ boy” system, which is alive and well in some organizations, tends to only be around for a short period of time and has created a culture of the “just getting by” mindset for its employees. Oh, and then there is the cheaper boss that looks good on paper during an interview, but cannot deliver, and it’s only after they’ve been hired and spewed their wrath of horror on the company that they finally get fired, leaving a wake of “what the hell” in their path!
How about the boss that leads by fear and intimidation? Those fearful bosses build silos in organizations. You know the silos I’m talking about right? Those beautiful dots we see from the air that cover mostly the Midwest of the U.S. full of grain. They are in silos because it is easy to store food that way and easy to control. The farmer goes from silo to silo and picks and chooses which silo he wants to sell or work with today, disregarding the potential of bountiful crops and revenue that may be hiding in the next silo. This is ironically similar to how cheap leaders work. They choose the teams or persons that work best for him or her, blatantly ignoring the row of employees that have the potential to best support the organization’s mission and vision.
Sadly, these cheap bosses are so angry with the world and themselves that their peers or even supervisors won’t approach them until the whole gang ends up in court. It could be an HR complaint, or your team and organization might be found defending itself on CNN…jeez! And it all could have been prevented if someone just had the guts to say something. Cheap leaders will attract people into their fold who have similar mindsets to theirs – in other words, these people won’t oppose their authority by any means. Cheap leaders have the tendency of fearing others who don’t act or think like they do, as well as people who lack the ability or confidence to question any of their decisions. And if anyone ever did question them, it was just a matter of time before they were moved into another silo, the silo of eventual termination.
Cheap leadership as defined by the Jack Perry school of Identifying Cheap Leaders (ICL 101) is “The man or woman that leads by fear and intimidation and develops silos within the organization to continue a culture of mistrust and intimidation in order to carry on an old leadership style that they thought would serve them well. They were poorly groomed and were not schooled on servitude to others. Thus, they blindly go through life, socially and emotionally clueless.”
There is hope for the cheap leader however. If you have made it this far in the blog and are still reading, chances are you are not a cheap leader, yet, you may have identified one in your organization. So, what to do now?
First off, call it what it is. The words cheap leadership may not go over so well in the boardroom or a team meeting, but it is still the same, so call it what it is. 70% of employees leave companies because of bosses, not the job. Maybe you’re not the one to identify or coach the cheap leader and that’s when it might be time to call in the help of a professional executive coach that understands the needs and wants of your organization. Or maybe it’s simply time to have that difficult conversation with that specific leader.
What gets in the way of a cheap leader getting it?
- Fear – The fear of others knowing how much he or she doesn’t know and this constant struggle of preventing anyone from finding out. They silo to protect themselves from talented employees.
- Ego – Their ego for self-survival is so strong that they do not want to ask for help until their life becomes so painful that they have no other option but to ask for help or have the help thrust upon them.
- Genuine lack of not knowing how to lead others – What worked for them years ago in a blue collar position does not necessarily mean it is going to work for them as a supervisor or leader. They were taught poorly.
- The idea of serving employees is a foreign and strange concept – They have not grasped the idea that when they serve their employees, the employees will in fact serve them.
- Spring loaded into the emotional response – A cheap leader will always react emotionally to assumptions, poor paradigms, and limiting beliefs about themselves and others, so much so that it becomes their “truth.” They fail to get the facts straight and to see things from the other person’s perspective.
- Cheap leaders fail to see vision for themselves and the team or organization – They will blindly go along like a ship without a compass, never self-correcting through self- growth or promoting employee growth.
- Lack of self-awareness and motivation – Some cheap leaders are in jobs they themselves do not like. They may feel as if they are a hamster in a cage, going fast to no where. They too need a break. They also may be tired with no new challenges in sight.
- Alienated from the team – They have been surfing on a title wave of mistrust and lack of loyalty within the company for so long that they have their armor up and are spring loaded for war everyday when they come to work. Others pick up on this energy and play “follow the leader.” Sadly, it’s tough to stop.
Ok, so let’s bring it home. If you have recognized yourself or a fellow employee in this light, then it may be time to take a pause for the cause and do something about the cheap leadership. Our egos have ruined so many careers and lives, and we just can’t get out of our own way at times. Taking responsibility for yourself as a leader with what does and doesn’t happen in our lives is the first step in getting past ourselves. So, lighten up and get past yourself. You will be surprised at how much you will receive from your employees. I promise you.