13 Ways to Pass the Squeeze Test
The people you serve evaluate you like a person buying bread. Do you pass the “squeeze test?”
Ever have a bad boss who didn’t realize how bad they were? What if complaints about you are partially right? Experience suggests you may not realize you are a stale, lousy leader.
Really lousy leaders don’t know how lousy they are.
- Walk around with their nose in the air and their hands in their pockets.
- Don’t show-up until something goes wrong.
- Think problems are somebody else’s.
- Blab on and on.
- Keep others on the hook but, let themselves off.
- Blow up when their ideas are questioned or challenged.
- Hide behind policy and procedure. “My hands are tied.”
- Don’t have time for the “little” people.
- Have unrealistic expectations. Say, “Just do it.”
- Instigate office drama by over-reacting.
- Don’t give useful feedback.
- Minimize and ignore criticism.
- Change mid-stream.
13 qualities of leaders we admire:
- Always seek the highest good. “Do no harm,” is only half the equation, the other is, “aggressively do good.” (Every admirable quality springs from this one.)
- Hire for strengths but don’t evaluate on weaknesses.
- Display confidence without arrogance by staying connected.
- Challenge people to be better while acknowledging their progress. We admire those who make us better.
- Define “better” together.
- Expose their humanity. You don’t have to do everything well. Just don’t pretend you can.
- Engage others early, deeply, and frequently.
- Thank those who challenge ideas.
- Make unpopular decisions in the open.
- Maintain can-do attitudes while acknowledging challenges and problems.
- Solve problems rather than create them.
- Provide support, encouragement, and feedback that enhances performance. (Lots of it)
- Maintain focus on what matters most. People matter most. (Including their feelings.) It is personal.
Bonus: Know they’re on both lists.
What positive qualities are most important? Most damaging?
What positive behaviors do you aspire to?
Great list for both sides. I am a new follower and have enjoyed everything so far. Keep up the great work.
Thanks RaHinders. Give it time. 🙂 I won’t always pass the squeeze test.
Yeah, wait til you see crusty Dan! 😉
“Make unpopular decisions in the open.” there’s a quality I admire …
Good one Ken. When we most feel like pulling back, we need to open up.
Well lucky for me I am really, really simple. Shortish, sweet and modest too!
Only need one way to spot a LEADER! Ok two!
One, has one or more followers. PERIOD
Two they create more oxytocin than cortisol, PERIOD.
See if I just look for the oxy then WHATEVER the behaviors they practice they are spot on.
Going at behaviors is just so 80’s! It is like I got a plumbing problem and I change the faucet. That ain’t where the action is.Just cosmetic. It is where the water is coming from! Check there and see where the magic is coming from.
Behaviors I aspire too? The ones that create more oxytocin than cortisol. PERIOD
Find a oxytocin generating machine and copy their behaviors whatever they are.
SP back to oxy generating behaviors…..doing epic random acts of ridiculously unselfish kindness and doing my best NOT TO TELL ANYONE!!!!
Thanks Scott. Looks like, overall, I didn’t pass your squeeze test.
Not really Dan, I have great respect for you because you are a Leader with followers.
I follow you.
The difference is I am a follower not a mouth breathing knuckle dragging devotee.
That means I highly admire, respect and learn from you.
On the other hand when guy stinks up the joint(in my opinion)I am gonna blow that out the megaphone too.
More importantly than passing any of my tests is if you are passing your own.
You love these lists, so do LOTS of the folks here!!! It helps them, you love doing them do keep grinding them out!!
Keep being a magnet to those who believe what you believe, you know the rest.
I was watching a Dan Kennedy interview the other day. He said he consulted with this sales guru dude who sold a book with 999 closes!!! Dan looked at him and said, if you had one that really worked would that negate the need for the other 998?
I think like him, lists don’t do much for me. I am not the only one!!!!! Thanks Dan Kennedy!!
Just be careful of the mouth breathing knuckle dragging devotees Dan. Did not work out too well for Jim Jones, or his devotees.
Not always a bad thing to have folks who are just straight with us and no bs or blind devotion involved.
Plus, how do I ever know if I need to sharpen my tool if everyone just says the one I got cuts great. No tool ever cuts great without regular sharpening.
I value people who tell me the truth the way they see it everytime not dingalings falling over themselves to pat me on the back every chance they get.
After awhile that just ain’t authentic.
Scott, that is “shortish” height-wise or brevity of postings?
Hopefully you’re a loaf of multi-grained bread … so much more healthy for the workplace 🙂
Thanks Michael. 🙂 Full of fiber to get things going.
The part about “know you are on both lists” is a great reminder for me. I aspire to be on the good leader list but I know I’m not perfect and I make lots of mistakes. Recognizing and admitting your own mistakes and shortcomings is another one I would add to the good leader list. Thanks for great lists today!
Thanks Carrie. I’m with you. I wrote that for me as much as anyone else.
Good morniong Dan;
The weight of leadership, especially in regard to high pressure situations, deadlines, and areas where the leader is weak or simply lacks skills and talents reveal stale or ‘lousy’ leaders. I agree in part with your statement, “Really lousy leaders don’t know thier lousy”. I am aware of leaders like this whom do give honest effort, they get the job done, but often ‘squeak by’. Maybe no one ever came along side them and mentored/coached them. Leaders sucsess stems form employee performance. Leaaders SHOULD have reached thier position through efficiency and a strong admirable work ethic and hands on skill. Unffortunatley as a leader (you can’t do everything). You have to rely on others. I believe lousy leaders who were promoted due to nothing more than nepatism KNOW THIER LOUSY LEADERS. They stand aloff and distant. They won’t admit fault to mistakes or take respondsability. Thier insencsative and extreamley critical of other but do not keep thier own house in order. They keep others at bay with thier ‘sledgehammer of authority’ creating thier own little force-field to repel others while avoiding conflict, self-examination followed by hard, honest, humbling, positive change. Most all leaders promoted via ‘the good-ole boy’ network are not worthy, know thier not worthy, and could really care less.In your list of ’13 qualities of leaders we admire’, NO#1 says it all. Aklways seek the highest good. “Do no harm”, is only half the equation, the other is aggressively do good”. (Every admireable quality stems from this mone). This reminds me of one of my favorite quote’s. “The right thing to do remains the right thing to do, EVEN WHEN NO ONE BELIEVES IT. The wrong thing to do remains the wrong thing to do, EVEN WHEN EVERYONE BELIEVES IT”.
Love it, “Cheers Dan”!
Thanks SGT. Your insights about nepotism and/or being promoted because of WHO you not NOT performance or skill are powerful. This is one of the deadliest practices in large organizations. Once these people get in, it’s nearly impossible to get them out.. Ugh!
I think you are right, they probably know they suck. That’s why they hunker down, play it safe, and kiss butt all the time.
“Dito my friend”…
Had one ex-boss that makes the lousy leader look amazing but maybe there is just a different list for completely inappropriate leaders?! Here’s to hoping we are all moving towards the second list and have great qualities that out way any lousy traits we may have 🙂
Thanks Rachael… On the journey!
Regarding…”Lousy leaders: 1 Walk around…” Not sure that they do walk around, probably ‘hole’ up more than walk around, but certainly when they do, it’s about them not you, often a hollow gesture not genuine. They might even badger/harass you to ‘enjoy the moldy bread and kool-aid’ and if you don’t… your dedication and allegiance are hoisted on a petard…but otherwise great place to work. 😉
Lousy leaders evoke fear and suck energy away, positive leaders evoke faith and generate energy. Positive leaders see the good and celebrate it.
Thanks Doc. Good call on “they don’t walk around …”
Your additions make me wish we had talked before I posted… The “fear” thing is a real punch in the gut.
One more great leader attribute: They ask others for feedback on how their actions affect other people’s performance. Courtesy of Jim and Barry “The Leadership Challenge”…. and the (usually) hardest act of leadership of all.
Great list Dan! Both of what to aspire to, and what to aspire not to do. A nice close to the month! Thank you for your insights – thought provoking and motivating. Cheers!
Thanks Cheryl. Wow… great add. “How are my behaviors impacting others?” That is a real leadership question.
Great post, Dan. This is the problem with self-awareness. It is a sadly one way street. Those who possess self-awareness are almost always on the second list and KNOW that they are also on the first list. Those who have no self-awareness do not recognize that either list exists let alone that they are on one of them. Working with individuals with little or no self-awareness has been one of my greatest challenges throughout my career.
Thanks Steven. Your comment made me chuckle in acknowledgement. Self-awareness is necessary for improvement.
I love that you bring both mention and a “fix for bad leaders” just as you do for bad staff members. After reading and carefully thinking about your characterizations of lousy leaders, and prospective fixes–
it occurred to me that a good many lousy leaders may be afflicted with what can be coined as “Imposter Success Syndrome”: When leaders rise to the top, but don’t believe they deserve they belong there.
I can imagine it as a phenomenon where successful people feel like frauds waiting for someone to realize they’re unfit for the leadership roles they’re already in. They explain away their success as luck or timing. They feel this sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. That fear is stressful, and often leads them to hold back–or to the 13 actions you list– instead of pushing for more…more challenging opportunities, for example.
Most of these leaders who feel like impostors, though, are actually exceptionally capable. It’s their self-image that’s off. Feeling like an impostor is different than “being” an impostor. Feelings are not facts. The fact is when successful people feel like imposters, they are actually experiencing “success syndrome”—when what’s really in question is the distinction between how we are valuable…not how valuable we are.
What do you think, Dan? Is this possible?
Thanks Rick. You mention something that is more common than people might think. It stands to reason that anyone who fears being found out would tend to act in self-protective ways. This might include pumping up the public image and also withdrawing.
Great thoughts to explore.
Dan, a Big gracias for adding value!
Home run, touchdown, Gooooooool!
I just left a meeting where I was sharing some these same points. Thank your for reinforcing my posture and bringing clarity to others areas that I did not consider.
Thanks Mark. One of the great pleasures of writing Leadership Freak is hearing people’s stories and finding points of growth and affirmation. Best for the journey.
I believe you had mentioned this before, but another quality is being proactive rather than reactive. A leader has the ability to visualize a potential opportunity or issue and seize the moment.
Thanks Alex. Reacting is part of organizational life. But, leadership must include being proactive. Which feels better? Reacting or taking initiative. Glad you joined in.
…Never speak in a condescending fashion, no matter who they are talking to.
I missed out one quality in leaders we admire – Perseverance
The residual effect of perseverance sometimes doesn’t happen for years much like the drop of water that suddenly comes out of your ear with no warning – it just shows up .
Thanks for sharing incredible post.
I have just resigned from a job under a “leader” who stifles, gossips, blocks progress, stops discussion, lacks transparency, fosters cynicism, hates change, lacks job specific knowledge and skill, doesn’t write emails let alone run meetings, aggressively defends one side of each story – theirs, yells, expects respect, fuels ignorance, doesn’t view themselves as a learner or a leader, refuses to learn anything new, and is completely toxic to the team and organisation they work in. Despite all this, my ex “leader” has just been reinstated for another 3 year contract. I thank my lucky stars that I now have the chance to lead my own team in another organisation and have learned an impossible amount about what not to do, from watching and analysing the disgraceful behaviour of my old boss. I’m new to your blog, loving it, I used this post as a check list to see how many of the ‘bad’ characteristics my old boss displayed. You guessed it, every single one. Keep up the awesome blogging and thanks!!
The problem is that I identify with the traits on both lists… 🙂 It’s good to know what we need to work on. Thanks for the advice!
Great post! This should be used as a guideline for up and coming leaders. It’s not easy to find leaders near you that you can study and learn from!!
Thanks for the advice! Which comes first : policy or follower ?