When a good leader goes bad–

Recently I was asked to coach a manager whom I first worked with 5 years ago. Let’s call him Jake the genius. He is one of the top ten smartest people I know. When I first met Jake, I was impressed with his insight, his forward thinking, and his ability to motivate and develop the sales team that worked for him. He hired extremely talented people, and they would sing his praises to anyone who would listen.

He got results. Better than any other team in the organization.

Five years later and his staff is telling a different story. “Jake has become negative lately….” Jake doesn’t listen, and is very impatient with me.…” “Jake is so unfair the way he…” “I’m not sure I can keep working for Jake. ….”

What happened you ask? Stress happened.

Like many of us today in this economy, Jake has been asked to take on more responsibility. He was promoted to a new position, but learned that he still needed to manage his existing team. He was told to increase his revenue numbers in a down economy. He watched his manager demonstrate her worry and impatience with the success of the group.

Research shows that people with higher cognitive ability are actually more impacted by stress than others.  Luckily for Jake, one of his salespeople was brave enough to talk to him about these issues, and he sought out a coach to help him make adjustments.

As a leader of people, it’s a good time to ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. Has the amount of time you spend communicating with your people changed drastically in the last six months?
  2. Are you communicating more electronically than in person, or by phone?
  3. Do the people that work for you seem more “distant” from you, less communicative, than before?

If the answer to two or more of these questions is “yes”, it probably makes sense for you to consider how your behavior is affecting your staff’s ability to perform at their best.

In my next blog I’ll talk more about why stress impacts our behavior so drastically, and what we can do to counteract it.

Laura Daley

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