The Point: While there are a gluttony of behaviors/actions you should be doing as a leader, we thought it would be interesting to take a typical Tip of the Spear contrarian view of what you should STOP doing as a leader. As such, the following seven (7) part series was developed based on executive coaching conversations had with leaders. In reviewing these leadership behaviors/actions, see if you see a little bit of yourself in the examples provided (No doubt you know several leaders besides yourself guilty)… Enjoy!
The Age of the “Yes” Person (Man/Woman)
As a leader, I want you to think back on your climb to the top… Think back to the people that were around you when you were at what’s call it “Base Camp.” That is to say, when you were first starting your career. In your leadership development program (You did have a leadership development program, right?) f you were to look to your left, and then to your right, no doubt neither of those two people would be present in your company (nor in leadership positions in their respective organizations if they/you have moved on).
In thinking back to those times (Hopefully they were good times), you probably witnessed an occasional sucking up. You know the action, telling the big boss that they were great, when the reality was they were far from it. Call it what you want, but you probably saw some “behind” kissing taking place (putting it mildly).
Leaders… It’s Lonely at the Top!
Flash forward to the present day… Now as a leader, you know when this sucking up is happening. So why do you let it occur? Let me ask you to consider a possible different way to frame this: Do you ever get told “No” by those that work with you? (I hope not… See Part I of this series as to why you shouldn’t!) If you’re like most leaders, you are far more likely to hear “Yes” as opposed to “No.”
So if you are constantly being praised, or sucked up to, what’s wrong with that? The problem lies in this directly perpetuates the stereotypical employee/employer relationship of those that kiss enough behind get ahead.
Leadership Isn’t a Popularity Contest
I was fortunate enough to do some work with Jim Kuzes, of “The Leadership Challenge” fame. I shared with Jim (and co-author Barry Posner) the dilemma an executive coaching client faced inasmuch his popularity with stakeholders was extremely low (read that as they hated him!) Fortunately/unfortunately, the feeling was mutual, as he had little regard for them either (He would typically say “I’ll fire all of them, and replace them within 24-hours with better people!”)
Jim gave me some sage advice, primarily that while leadership isn’t a popularity contest… It’s not an un-popularity contest either!
So in this post we covered that leaders shouldn’t play favorites in the workplace. Stakeholders aren’t pets, and therefore even though they show faux-loyalty tendencies we shouldn’t reward their non-productive/results focused behavior accordingly. Instead, look for those that collaborate on initiatives and put solid numbers up on the key performance indicators board before you praise.
PS – You may also enjoy some of the other recent posts I wrote:
- The Leadership Challenge: Saying “Thank You”
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Mindful?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Better Off Lucky Than Good?
- The Leadership Challenge: Can You Drive the Development of Leaders Who Transform Your Business?
- What’s Inside Your Leadership Time Capsule?
- The Leadership Challenge: 10 Characteristics to Develop Your Executive Presence
- The Leadership Challenge: Happy New Year! Now What?
- Leadership Amnesia: Should You Forget the Past to Move Forward to a Better Future?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are Your SMART Goals DUMB?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Climbing the Leadership Mountain?
- The Leadership Challenge: They Want You To Fail! 8 Leadership Tips to Overcome Failure
- The Leadership Challenge: Do You Exercise Your Moral Muscle?
- The Leadership Challenge: Conducting Post-Mortem Reviews
Sam Palazzolo is the Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Communication Skills Training for Leaders.