On Leadership, Perspective and Toxic CEOs

6 Types of Toxic CEO's

 

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Hubris: The Megaphone of Overblown Confidence

Hubris

Finding the right “confidence/hubris” balance is critical for leaders. And when the balance tips toward hubris and too far away from humility, problems can arise and impact an entire organization, country, or society.

No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence.” ~Barbara Tuchman

On Charisma and Confidence

Society selects charismatic, confident and expert leaders who give a reassuring impression of their personal comfort with power. Over time and with the right circumstances leaders can progress from confidence to hubris.

Many examples of world leaders exhibiting hubris come to mind including:

  • Tony Blair
  • Bill Clinton
  • George W Bush
  • Barack Obama
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Winston Churchill

But excessive hubris isn’t limited to politicians. I am sure that sporting and entertainment stars and business leaders with excessive hubris soon spring to mind.

Order or Disorder?

Former UK Foreign Secretary Lord Owen and his collaborator Jonathan Davidson (Duke University Medical Centre) studied 100 US Presidents and UK Prime Ministers for evidence of hubris arguing it as a personality disorder.

What is Hubris Syndrome?

Hubris syndrome is a personality trait defined by fourteen key characteristics.

Proposed criteria for hubris syndrome (5, 6, 10, 12 & 14 are unique to hubris)

  1. A narcissistic propensity to see their world primarily as an arena to exercise power and seek glory.
  2. A predisposition to take actions which seem likely to cast the individual in a good light.
  3. A disproportionate concern with image and presentation.
  4. A messianic manner of talking about current activities and a tendency to exaltation.
  5. An identification with the nation, or organization to the extent that the individual regards his/her outlook and interests as identical; (unique).
  6. A tendency to speak in the third person or use the royal ‘we’; (unique).
  7. Excessive confidence in their own judgement and contempt for advice or criticism.
  8. Exaggerated self-belief, bordering on a sense of omnipotence, in what they can achieve.
  9. A belief that rather than being accountable to the mundane court of colleagues or public opinion, the court to which they answer is: History or God.
  10. An unshakable belief that in that court they will be vindicated.
  11. Loss of contact with reality; often associated with progressive isolation.
  12. Restlessness, recklessness and impulsiveness; (unique).
  13. A tendency to allow their ‘broad vision’, about the moral rectitude of a proposed course, to obviate the need to consider practicality, cost or outcomes; (unique).
  14. Hubristic incompetence, where things go wrong because too much self-confidence has led the leader not to worry about the nuts and bolts of policy.

“We’ve seen the hubris. And now we’re seeing the scandals.” ~David Gergen

It Depends on Context

Whether hubristic leaders are recognised and remembered as being more or less successful depends on their specific context and circumstances.

  • Winston Churchill was right for war, but not for peace.
  • Steve Jobs thrived in a rapid innovative world, but would he have been appropriate for a more placid business environment.

Whilst entrepreneurial endeavour requires a degree of measured overconfidence to succeed, organisations can also develop destructive Hubris Syndrome, think of Enron.

As with all behaviours, self-awareness is our most powerful buffer against excess; so how hubristic are you?

Detecting Hubris Syndrome

How can you detect Hubris Syndrome?

The way we all use language is a reflection of our thoughts and fortunately for researchers, hubristic leaders are so convinced of their personal mission that generally they make little or no attempt to sanitise their public pronouncements.

Instead they have a primal drive to tell us exactly what they feel about themselves, their ideas and their justifications!

Dr Peter Garrard  (St. Geoerge’s, University of London) has developed a method based on linguistic analysis to detect hubris in written material, and identified clear differences in word usage by the hubristic UK Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair compared with the more measured John Major.

 A Cure?

The antidote to hubris, to overweening pride, is irony, that capacity to discover and systematize ideas. Or, as Emerson insisted, the development of consciousness, consciousness, consciousness.” ~Ralph Ellison

Finding the right “confidence/hubris” balance is critical and prevention by raising awareness and developing preventative systems is much more effective and less disturbing  for all concerned (including the potentially hubristic leader) than attempting a cure; by prosecution, coercion or revolution.

In their excellent research paper, Beyond hubris: How highly confident entrepreneurs rebound to venture again; Mathew L.A. Hayward (University of Colorado at Boulder) and his colleagues explain why, “More confident founders of new ventures that fail are better positioned to start subsequent ventures; and, become better equipped to start another venture.

Curiosity is Your Protection

Constant non-judgemental curiosity about our thoughts, motives, words and actions is a brake on overbearing hubris developing.

This moment of mental re-framing gives us a breathing space to exercise that irony and consciousness so important for keeping both feet on the ground. How each of us achieves this dance in the moment is our business.

Want to spot your own hubris potential? – Ask yourself this:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 where do I lie for each Hubris factor.
  2. If many of my scores are higher than 5 can I observe any specific expressions of my hubristic behaviour and the effects they trigger?
  3. How do people react to me when I behave confidently – over-confidently – arrogantly or hubristically?
  4. Does my hubristic behaviour nurture or deplete others?
  5. Does my hubristic behaviour achieve my goals and my organisation’s?
  6. Am I prepared to modify my behaviour if it ensure’s my organisation’s success?

Recommended reading

The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair & the Intoxication of Power – David Owen

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——————–
 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership and Leading a Legacy

Legacy Wake

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Fifty years ago, on November 18, 1963, President John F. Kennedy made a stop here in Tampa, FL.  Who would have had any idea that four days later he would be assassinated in Dallas, TX?

Your Leadership Legacy

I just watched a special on the Tampa visit, and it got me thinking . . . I mean seriously thinking . . . what legacy would I leave behind?  What plans would I have, in place, that would keep going after I was suddenly gone?

When a prized leader leaves an organization, you normally hear things about how “he did this” and how “he did that.”  But that’s all in the past.  Times keep changing.  Needs keep changing.  Are the things that you DID, lasting through to the future and making an impact?

We all want to be remembered for something.  But that’s where the problem starts.  “Something” tends to be singular.  It’s a definitive.  You do it, it’s done, people remember . . . for awhile.  Think big – think bigger – – think long-term.  You’ve given a lot of time to your employees and your organization.

So why does it have to stop when you leave?

Legacy Planning

Now don’t confuse this with succession planning.  Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing your internal employees with the potential to fill your leadership position(s) in the company.  You could have the most detailed succession plan possible but still not leave a lasting legacy.

The key is to THINK of your job in terms of how you will leave it.  This provides a different way to look at your work and what you want to accomplish. Instead of focusing on the day-to-day tasks, it helps you to focus on the bigger picture and take a more organizational view of your work. Consider your own job, your team, your department, the leadership, and how all of these pieces are connected to bring the overall organization together.

On Talking and Walking

So many people can talk the talk.  But how many people can actually, truly, walk the talk?  I love Mark Miller’s analogy in his new book, The Heart of Leadership.

He uses the example of an iceberg:

As you look at the iceberg, you only see about 10% of it.  The other 90% is below the waterline. The portion you see above the waterline represents leadership skills – reproducible by many.  Below represents leadership character – practiced by few.  The people who talk the talk represent the 10%.  The people who walk the talk represent that, along with, the other 90%.

I’m going to use my favorite example again . . . Disney.  Walt Disney passed away from lung cancer in 1966, before his vision of Disney World in Florida was realized. After much mourning and wondering where to go from there, his brother and business partner, Roy O. Disney, postponed his retirement to oversee construction of the resort’s first phase.

Walt had vision and plans for the company that extended for years.  And, to this day, things are still being developed from Walt’s original visualizations.  In fact, it wasn’t decided until well into the construction process to name the resort WALT Disney World, in honor of the man whose ideas and visions brought it to life . . . five years after he passed away.

On Big Shoes and Footprints

So maybe you’re not the owner or the CEO of the organization.  What does that matter?

You still have the opportunity to leave some pretty good-sized footprints.

Not trying to blow my own horn here, but at my last two jobs I developed customer service programs, from scratch, that saw great success within the first two months.  Now if I had been putting things together month by month, my legacy would have ended when I left.

But I had a whole vision, training materials, schedules, tracking procedures, customer response actions – the whole package.  My footprints weren’t in the sand.  I “lived on” through the people who took over after me.

The Nurse Bryan Rule

In his book, The Essential Drucker, management guru Peter Drucker told a story about how a hospital adopted what came to be known as “Nurse Bryan’s Rule.”

“A new hospital administrator, holding his first staff meeting, thought that a rather difficult matter had been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, when one participant suddenly asked, ‘would this have satisfied Nurse Bryan?’ At once the argument started all over and did not subside until a new and much more ambitious solution to the problem had been hammered out.

Nurse Bryan, the administrator learned, had been a long-serving nurse at the hospital. She was not particularly distinguished, had not in fact ever been a supervisor. But whenever a decision on patient care came up on her floor, Nurse Bryan would ask, ‘Are we doing the best we can do to help this patient?’ Patients on Nurse Bryan’s floor did better and recovered faster. Gradually, over the years, the whole hospital had learned to adopt what became known as ‘Nurse Bryan’s Rule.'”

– At the time this story took place, Nurse Bryan had been retired for 10 years.

Leading a Legacy

Someday, you’ll look back over your career and ask, “What did I really do?”  You’ll regret the opportunities you missed and time you wasted.  But you’ll also remember all that you did right.  And people will still come up to you and say, “Oh yeah, you’re the one that ______. We still use the guidance from your _____. Our team wouldn’t be as successful without you.”

Ask not what your organization can do for you. Ask what you can do for your organization.

What kind of future for your organization are you looking at?  What is important to you?  What parts of your work do you most value?  Is there a need in the organization you can fill? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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Leadership Follies – Doing is Not Developing

Learn More

Do you wonder why the folks that report to you rely on you to solve their problems?  Probably because you always do this for them. You solve their problems. You teach them to come to you.

This is great if you are a parent or the star of a reality TV show called “Problem Solver.”

But, as a leader having people rely on you to solve their problems creates a cycle of dependency.  That isn’t leadership that is enabling bad behavior.  Want to create leaders? Start with developing accountability

Developing Accountability

AccountabilityLeaders and their teams are inundated with stimuli. With all the tweets, IM’s, emails, phone calls and “drop-ins” it is hard to think straight let alone get anything done.

More often than not, we simply react to questions or issues that are brought to our attention.

It is easier to do that than reflect and ask questions.  But in order to develop leaders on our teams, we must stop doing for people and start expecting them to do.

The Accountability Muscle

Let’s look at how to encourage your team to develop this muscle.

John brings a problem to you. It is urgent and needs to be dealt with RIGHT NOW.

  • Thank John for coming to you.
  • Ask him “Why is this issue occurring?”  Follow that up with one or two other why questions to get to the real issue
  • Once the real issue is uncovered, ask him -

◦       “What is the outcome you want?” or

◦       “What would success look like” or

◦       “What would happen if you did nothing”

  • Finally, ask him

◦       “How would you make [the outcome he stated previously] happen? or

◦       What is the process you’d use to make that happen?

  • Help him tweak the process/solution he suggested but unless people’s lives are in danger or some other safety issue could occur, do not give him the answer EVEN IF YOU KNOW IT.

The last thing you need to do is to encourage him to go out and implement his solution, even if you’re not 100% it will work.

Encouraging Failure

It is better to try and fail than not to try at all.” ~ Henry Ford

Don’t shield the people on your team from failure.  That is not going to help them grow or learn.  Failure is one of the greatest tools for people to understand what to do and not to do.  Failure avoidance only causes us to limit ourselves.  It stifles our innovation and creativity.

Push the people on your team to implement their own solutions.  Of course they should do their due diligence, but it’s critical that they are coming up with and implementing their ideas.  Whether the solution is successful or not, they will learn.  It will foster growth.

Giving Away Responsibility

Once people start implementing their own solutions and coming to you less to solve their problems, start giving them more responsibility or authority.  This doesn’t mean that you should abdicate your role or stop overseeing things.  Instead, it is recognizing their growth and rewarding them.

As a leader, your primary roles are:

  • Develop other leaders
  • Ensure people understand the impact they have on gaining and retaining customers

The more you responsibility you can give to your team, the less they will rely on you to solve al their problems.  This will allow you to focus on leading, finding innovative ways to serve your customers, or develop yourself.

As leaders, the worst thing that we can do for our teams is to solve all their problems for them.  It makes them dependent on you and limits their growth.

How do you encourage accountability? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Anil Saxena
Anil Saxena is a Senior Consultant and Business Partner with Coffman Organization
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
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Wake Up! Leaders are Dreamers

Leaders are Dreamers

Risky Dreams 

“The limitations you are willing to accept determine the boundaries of your existence.” ~ Erwin McManus, Wide Awake

As I reflect on what I learned a few years ago in Erwins’ book Wide Awake, I am challenged, prodded and provoked to live and think differently.

I wonder this:

  • “Am I living too safely?”
  • “Am I leading too plainly?”
  • “Am I willing to dream again—bigger, better, bolder?”

Remember: Great leaders are born out of great dreams.

I Have a Dream

Some of those “great dreams” emerge from a creative idea. Jeff Bezos, in 1992, was a SVP for the New York hedge fund D.E. Shaw when he dreamt of building a company that would sell books on the Internet. Ever heard of Amazon?

Others are stirred deeply by injustice. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harriet Tubman dreamed of freedom, battling slavery and racial oppression. It cost MLK his life.

Some dreams do that.

MADD as Hell

Not infrequently dreams are birthed in the midst of great tragedies. On May 3, 1980, Candy Lightner’s 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver in Fair Oaks, California.

Angered by the relatively light sentence the driver received for his recklessness, she launched Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) which raises awareness of the damage wrought when driving under the influence of alcohol.

McManus says “a dream needs a person to bring it to life.”

An isolated dream will only fester in the heart of one person and eventually die; and sometimes it takes the dreamer with it.

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Living the Dream

Dying dreams are as contagious as living ones. How many of us have buried dreams only to realize that we have placed a bit of ourselves in the ground? A dream must be shared, embodied and empowered for it to be life-giving.

Dreams are intensely communal.

McManus provocatively says:

How long you live does not reflect how well you live. The real question is, were you alive when you died?

I love that question! And I fear it.

  • What if my dream fails?
  • What if no one else is inspired by my burning desire to live the dream?
  • What if my dream is just an illusion, a momentary fit of grandiosity and self-indulgence?

Becoming a Dreamer

We need to focus our energy and rekindle the fires

McManus notes the word focus comes from the Latin word for “hearth” or “fireplace” and thus means “the burning center.” What is the burning center of my life? To find it I must carve away distractions, cut off the peripheral could-do for the more central must-do. But the “do” must be centered in the “be” – what I am becoming.

Before I have a dream am I becoming a dreamer?

That takes some time and effort. Focus seems like a luxury only a well-subsidized artist can afford—someone who’s paid to paint one portrait, not run around frantically splashing paint on every blank canvas, hoping for a quick a sale.

Can we make the changes needed to be real dreamers? Are we willing to make a focused effort?

Build the Core with Focus

McManus tells the story of therapy he received for a back injury – to work on his stomach. It seemed odd but he soon understood that “core training” was key to a healthy back. POW’s learned to do it so they’d remain strong enough for a potential escape, but not look so strong in the arms that they’d pose a threat.

We need to work on our “core” – core beliefs, practices and convictions; core mission, vision and strategy. FOCUS! But it is not easy or glamorous, so I settle for superficial solutions and neglect the core.

“I think a lot of us choose the opposite path,” McManus chides. “We do the tanning booth and the Botox and the collagen so we can look healthy on the outside, but we are really weak at the center.”

Admittedly, I am weaker at the center than I’d care to admit. And, as a result, my team is not as strong. Because core training is best when we do it together, like Navy Seals prepping for the mission of their lives.

So What’s a Leader to Do?

There are no quick steps. But here are some routines that will help leaders dream with focus and persistence.

1)     Shore up Relationships at Home (or friends)

My wife and daughter come first (my son’s out of the house now). Centered relationships will let you dream freely, knowing you are caring for the fires at home before you try to save the world.

2)     Spend Some Money

Dreaming has a cost. I suggest 1-2 conferences or gatherings and books. I am in the process of ordering about 30-40 leadership resources for the coming months. This is a mix of biography, provocative thinkers, life shapers and students of culture, and personal growth materials. I need to hear other voices as I recalibrate my own.

3)     Do a Dreamers Inventory

What inspired you before? What are the roadblocks now? What gets you up in the morning and keeps you up at night? What can you do that others cannot do? What must be done? I live in these questions.

4)     Get Around Other Dreamers

Hanging out with I’m-building-the-dream-right-now-and-it-is-a-wild-ride kinds of people will light your fire and keep it burning. You know the type – upstart business leaders, creative teachers, provocative activists, church planters, artists without boundaries. (ESPECIALLY if they are not in your field!!!). I am doing it this week.

5)     Pull the Trigger

At some point you simply must act. I was recalling in my journal all the things I started in the last few years, some large, some small. Many “failed” or fizzled, or took an unexpected turn. Yes, I was frustrated, angry, disappointed, lost momentum, and almost threw in the towel. Actually, I did– but I picked up some new towels. I am not where I want to be – but I am moving!

 The real question is, “Were you alive when you died?”

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———————
Dr. Bill Donahue
Dr. Bill Donahue is President of LeaderSync Group, Inc

Bill is a professor at TIU and a Leadership Speaker and Consultant
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Matrix Leadership

Matrix Leadership

Research from the Hay Group has long focused on leadership competencies – in both for profit and non-profit settings. Whether leading a church, a company, a private school, or hospital, you are likely to need matrix-type leadership skills.

That’s because all these settings have 2 things in common:

  1. Specific leadership responsibilities within an area of expertise (sales, men’s ministry, customer service)
  2. The need to bring that expertise across the organization in a cross-functional setting.

Working with a complex, 2000-member church I have seen the need for senior leaders to have these skills. Consulting with a $100 million business with 400 employees, and guiding a leadership team at an urban non-profit, I witnessed the same challenges and needs.

So here is the question:

How do we lead people in non-hierarchical structures to accomplish personal and organizational goals?

Four Competencies

The Hay research identifies 4 competencies specifically needed in matrix settings:

Empathy:

The ability to identify with the perspectives and insights of others who hold different views

Conflict Management:

The ability to resolve issues and relational breakdown in mutually beneficial ways, aligned with institutional outcomes

Influence:

The ability to lead people when you do not have direct-line authority or supervision

Self-awareness:

Having enough personal insight to recognize when and how to engage others, manage emotions and understand personal strengths and weaknesses

(For more information on this kind of research see http://www.haygroup.com/ww/press/details.aspx?ID=33283)

Sounds good. But there is only one problem. The researchers found these competencies greatly lacking in many leaders, especially men. The percentage of leaders in the survey who demonstrated each competency are listed below:

  • Empathy: 22%
  • Conflict Management: 31%
  • Influence: 20%
  • Self-awareness: 9%

With so few leaders who are self-aware of their own abilities and relational capacities (or lack thereof), and lacking in influence and empathy, it is no wonder that matrix management approaches are difficult.

Acquiring New Skills

So how do we help leaders acquire some of these skills and manage the complexities associate with complex structures?

They suggest developing leaders by:

  • Placing them in diverse groups with people who share a variety of perspectives and opinions
  • Allowing them to shadow experienced leaders to expose them to new leadership worlds and diverse leadership styles
  • Providing a variety of leadership experiences where emerging leaders can lead (or share leadership) in areas outside their immediate skill sets and expertise

This makes sense, thought the pressures of day-to-day leadership will mitigate against it. Taking someone off-line from their normal responsibilities will require senior leaders to flex a bit, recognize short-term productivity losses or delays, and allow these leaders to fail along the way.

This takes time in the short run but has huge long-term payouts, if we are patient and willing to learn.

That is the challenge for go-getter, type-A “what’s next?” leaders. Development takes time.

But you either take the time to build the skills, or you take the time to clean up the matrix mess you will have with incompetent leaders managing complex situations. I can guarantee you want to spend the time on development rather than perpetual high-maintenance clean up activity.

Four Warnings

Be wary of idealizing the matrix approach. It is no panacea. In addition to the skills needed to lead within AND across an organization, there are some things to watch for. Ruth Malloy, a managing director at the Hay Group in Boston offers these insights.

1)     Identify competency gaps and correct them.

Know your weaknesses in leadership, especially in the four areas above. How self-aware am I? When can I use influence and how? Doing this as a team is a vital exercise.

2)     Don’t “pull rank” to solve an issue.

It is a temptation as a supervisor to use your authority to fix the problem or get your way. This short-circuits the process, stunts leader development and destroys trust. Let the process work.

3)     Deal with emotionally-charged issues face-to-face, not through email.

I have seen this so many times it makes me want to cringe. As I worked with leadership teams and groups it is amazing that even teams that meet regularly will use email to engage an emotional issue. It is a community-killer and team-breaker.

4)     Don’t take problems directly to the top (to the CEO or Senior Manager or Senior Pastor.)

Most of the time this backfires. Running to Big Brother to try to leverage his/her positional authority shows how desperate and ineffective you are at leading. Work the problem together and don’t play power games.

Taking Stock of Things

So today I am taking stock. I think I am good at empathy and strong in conflict management, but need to leverage my influence (I often underestimate it) and grow in self-awareness.

So I need to do some ruthless and honest work, asking those close to me this:

“How do you experience me, where do I make my best contribution, and how can I better understand what you need from me?”

Matrix management sounds cool and trendy. It is both. And it is effective, but only for those willing to do the work.

What are your competencies? How can you and your team grow? When will you take this research and discuss it as a team so you can move forward?

**********

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———————
Dr. Bill Donahue
Dr. Bill Donahue is President of LeaderSync Group, Inc

Bill is a professor at TIU and a Leadership Speaker and Consultant
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Leadership Transparency: When the Unexpected Happens

Hiding Under Desk

It is human nature to create our own reason to a problem when something unexpected happens and when we don’t know the true answer.  It is a survival instinct to explain the unexplained and to provide purpose to the unknown.

And when leaders don’t realize this human tendency, it can really damage morale and productivity in the workplace.

Understanding Leadership Roles

A few months ago I had a conversation on leadership capabilities with a General Manager that I have known for most of his career.  We discussed the different challenges for leaders depending on what type of organization they head.  I wanted to get his perspective on the differences he observed in leading his current organization versus leading the mainstream business.

When I mentioned a colleague’s recent move to lead a “turnaround” organization because the previous leader failed, he questioned my premise.

He defended the other leader and the organization.

  • He was adamant that the previous manager was a great leader
  • He insisted that the change was not a result of  any mistakes
  • He also argued that the organization was not in trouble

Getting to the Truth

But my colleague was uninformed and incorrect. He was just plain wrong. And I thought that he needed to know the truth. So having insight into the organization in question and having a long time relationship with this GM, I spent some time with my colleague and gave him the truth.

I was up front and told him that many people simply didn’t know the truth about the situation. And without enough communication on the subject matter, the reason for the leadership changes would probably not be clear to those who worked for the replaced leader. My friend who worked there simply believed something different than what actually took place because he didn’t have the facts.

So in communication the truth, my honesty provided a new perspective to this leader and he thanked me for giving him a new lens on being transparent.

When something unexpected happens and leaders don’t communicate enough, followers will make up their own story which may not paint the right picture.  The leader may think they have provided what’s needed but a high level statement will not be sufficient if it does not contain enough “why.

A Little Closer to Home

I serve on the Board of Directors of my Home Owners Association.  I could write a new reality show on the drama that exists in a community that appears from the outside to be a beautiful paradise.

I have learned that this is not uncommon in large communities.  Who knew?

Due to different circumstances during my tenure, we have had a lot of turnover on the Board and with the Association Manager.  In most circumstances, the board was not able to disclose the reason for the departures without legal risk.

I recently got to know one of my neighbors with a great network within the community.  She told me the various rumors that were circulating on the different departures.  I could not believe my ears.  The stories were so far from the truth, it floored me.

I asked her “how do people make this stuff up?”

When information is lacking, people will create their own version of what they believe to be the truth.  The more distrust in the leader, the more harmful the story.

Impacting Morale and Results

I recently had lunch with a colleague who works for a small company in the Midwest.  She shared an unfortunate example of lack of transparency and the impact.

The CEO of her company unexpectedly announced her departure.

The CEO’s statement followed by a scarce press release from PR created a whirlwind of water cooler talk filled with employees speculating if they should bail ship.  Stories being conjured up included lack of faith in the company, indiscretions, political aspirations, health issues and so on.

It has negatively impacted morale and productivity in a time where the company can’t afford to pause.

My colleague’s concern was that the true reason may never be known which could unintentionally shake the foundation of bench leaders or cause the company to go under.

A Better Way To Lead: Use Wisdom and Truth

Here are a few questions that can point to a better way to handle things:

  • Leaders need to consider when something unexpected happens, how much can and needs to be disclosed?
  • What do employees need in order to have trust?
  • How can a leader turn concern into contentment and acceptance?
  • If legal risks or confidentiality prevent details from being disclosed, what CAN be communicated?

Shortly after one of our Association Managers left unexpectedly and an angry crowd showed up at the board meeting demanding to bring her back, we disclosed that due to risk of litigation, we couldn’t provide details.

Amazingly the noise stopped!

We didn’t have to disclose the details, we just had to provide the “why”.

Have you experienced a leader being transparent in a rough situation that resulted in unexpected success?  What examples do you have of leaders not being transparent and the consequences?

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Cheryl Dilley
Cheryl Dilley 
is a Program Director at Intel Corporation
She is a transformation leader, coach, and program strategist
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Image Sources: workwithjeanniealaimo.com

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