Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Recovery from: When a great leader goes bad…2

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

In my last blog I talked about the intense power of stress on our interaction skills and how the higher our cognitive ability, the greater the impact. I talked about Jake the genius, a leader who had lost his ability to motivate and positively impact the behavior of his team during this stressful, leaner business environment.

Our brainpower—or cognitive ability– to think, innovate and motivate can get severely squeezed by the stress of the work environment or issues at home. What results is so much “noise” in the thinking part of our brains, that we are literally paralyzed cognitively. We find that we can’t use logic, display productive emotions and empathize-three critical components of effective communication. While crippled by our limited brainpower, we communicate the wrong things to our staff—demotivating messages, confusing body language, and uncontrolled emotion.

Biologically this reaction to stress is the same for each of us. So the Jake scenario has occurred repeatedly during the past year to the detriment of leaders, their staff and the results of their organizations.

Changing biologically directed and negative responses takes conscious effort on our part. But it can be done. Here’s a plan for leaders who find themselves in this situation.

How to recover—

1. Admit your own “bad” behavior- Sorry for the analogy, but like an alcoholic at the first AA meeting, admitting is the first step.
2. Apologize sincerely to those affected- Explain that you have a sense of what you have been like, and that you recognize it couldn’t have been fun for any of them. No “buts” or excuses!
3. Ask for their thoughts. Listen intently- by looking them in the eyes, taking notes, and paraphrasing what they say.
4. Ask for their help in noticing improvement-when more motivating behaviors occur again. Ask them to focus less on if you screw up, and more when you’re “awesome.”
5. Put a conscious plan in place- Keep a written log for yourself so you are consciously tracking helpful, supportive behavior. Being aware of our progress gives us the autonomy we need to continue to build on our success.

Know that because we are all human, you may “fall off the wagon” from time to time. Recovering your strong leader status is not about perfection.

Good Luck and cheers! Here’s to hoping my next blog is, “When a temporarily bad leader gets great again!”

When a good leader goes bad–

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

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