Interesting since I just wrote an article sparked by a bizarre interaction with a "Leader" in one of my industries...
And, yesterday, I was sharing with a friend about my prior experiences with corporate engagements...sadly, most of the organizations I have dealt with, refuse to include the leadership in their initiatives...only focusing on the employee or mid-level manager level.
If the leaders do get involved, their major focus is on getting other people to change, as opposed to taking the brave path and reflecting on their own opportunities for transformation.
Is it Fear? Lack of accountability once folks get to a certain level? Resistance to change? All of the Above?
Frankly, as someone who took full advantage of someone else's willingness to foot the bill for my personal development (ohhh, the days of working for someone else did have some incredibly nice benefits), I am always still confused as to WHY leaders and managers seem to resist feedback and coaching.
I also am shocked to still find so many leaders still getting away with being abusive. Last week, while working with an incredible group of 30+ people, the theme emerged again. In fact, in addition to reports of supported abuse, yelling, public embarrassment, etc. many managers who were supposed to be in the program just simply have not shown up!
Modeling, Modeling, Modeling...let's start there!
In the end, it makes the work I do feel somewhat futile, because folks know that their bosses are being held to a less than stellar standard. It is demoralizing and appalling to me that so many companies still give permission to these forms of unconscious behaviors by hiring and keeping on managers and "leaders" who abuse, manipulate and control.
Working in law enforcement for 14 years, I experienced my fair share of authoritarian, command and control types of "leaders" and although a somewhat unique environment, it may increase compliance, but not respect, or the internal motivation (as opposed to fear and threat) that is truly required for us to foster the highest potential in our workforce.
Here is a portion of an article I recently wrote on the subject.
I have worked with my share of bullying leaders who abuse their power and receive a false sense of respect because people tend to jump when asked. Maybe the value of power and control is stronger than a value of equality. Maybe their insecurity is masked by behaviors that others might perceive as arrogant. Maybe this leads to a stronger value in being heard than in hearing.
In my observation, the non-serving behaviors translate into most of their relationships. The unlikable leader who relies on this false sense of compliance and respect to build their own internal worth often suffers from a string of failed relationships. In many cases, even their own children, once grown up, don’t remain in relationship with the abusive relationship. If they do, it remains governed by a feeling of obligation rather than desire. Equality is usually impossible to achieve. Unfortunately, the abusive leader tends to always find that fault or blame is always outside of themselves, rarely seeing that the common denominator is looking at them in the mirror.
What Are Your Rules and Standards? And How Are They Working For You?
We might consider the possibility that the expectations and rules we establish for ourselves and others can sometimes create unreasonable demands and create more impossibility than possibility. These self-chosen rules can both be subtle and severe. It warrants an exploration of our own habitual tendencies – in particular those that result in judgment, blame, hurt feelings or loss. It may be more internally directed, resulting in self punishment and a poor sense of self. After all, do we really want to create relationships that are more about avoiding disapproval and judgment than they are about working collaboratively to honor our commitments to be the best we can be?
A simple exercise that will help you explore your own values and potential rigidity is to complete the following statements;
- I am the type of person who…
- I believe that…
- I can’t stand when…
- People who _____are….
- People who don’t _____are…
- I value______, therefore, I expect____ from others.
- The one thing that I will not forgive is…
Although bullying by forcefully imposing one’s judgments and “standards” on others might increase compliance (which some unconscious leaders experience as accountability), it does not lend to creating healthy relationships where people are willing to be honest. People who are judgmental and critical are not generally expected to be compassionate or empathetic, so a lot goes unsaid and unknown. Leaving things unsaid is essentially giving permission to the status quo and thus we enter into the game of supporting the unconsciously incompetent.
Rigidity in our own beliefs can cause us to impose our values on others. It does not create the conditions for people to become internally motivated. Instead, we keep recreating parental relationships that are based in avoiding pain and disapproval as opposed to fostering an internal drive towards excellence. I have seen this in myself, in Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, church boards and families; grown adults acting like children in big skins, each vying for “rightness” based on their personal values, rules and the standards we set for others. Fear as a leadership tool creates false excellence through compliance, not collaboration. Frankly we all probably have opportunities to find a kinder way and ultimately more effective way to lead.