Solution Saturday: Dishonest and Boasting
This email arrived a couple days ago.
Would you please write about leaders who bulldoze, have poor communication skills, lack follow-through, present dishonestly, blame others for their weak areas, yet continually boast about how good they are while under-performing in just about every area of responsibility.
Could you shed some light on how peer leaders can work with this person?
How staff can trust and follow the lead of this person?
How members of the organization can stay committed?
Others don’t change us. We change ourselves.
- Clarify and commit to your values.
- Behave in ways that express your guiding principles, regardless of the consequences.
- Learn to navigate conflicting values.
Trust and follow?
Can’t be done.
How to work with a lousy leader?
- Stressed out. The stress won’t go away as long as you care about colleagues, your organization, and yourself. It’s going to drive you crazy as long as the situation continues.
- Develop your character. You’re getting powerful lessons on who not to be.
- How are you becoming the leader you respect. Become the leader you wish you had. (Most important.)
- What behaviors take you where you want to go?
- How are you grappling with anger, bitterness, or revenge?
- Keep a daily journal of reflections and lessons learned.
- Don’t sabotage yourself. Do your best, regardless of the behavior of others.
- Document your work.
- Invite coaches and mentors into your life.
- Don’t try to reform a lousy leader, unless you’re willing to lose your job.
Work to change things?
- Don’t speak up unless you’re willing to work to make things better.
- Speak directly to the leader before going over his/her head.
- Make it about your organization, not you. If it’s personal, you come off as a self-centered whiner.
Look for a new job.
How has your leadership improved from working with a lousy leader?
What suggestions might you offer for working with a lousy leader?
I’m glad you put “Can’t be done” under trust. All your ideas are workable; I think staying true to one’s own values can be difficult with an untrustable boss; but, it’s essential to self. Thanks for this column.
Thanks Diane. The only way to benefit from situations like this is to grow through them. The only way to grow through them is to live by our values.
Dan over my years in large firms, the worst Leaders often had these traits:
1. Smart enough to impress bosses
2. Socially skilled enough to manage Up but not Down
3. Were great Cheerleader types – every problem was met with a pep talk not a solution
Sooner or later they are found out and move on to the next Stadium!
SO true, Brad James. Those cheerleaders also often seem to have some kind of charisma, so that they have their “followers”–I guess this goes along with that they know how to impress bosses and manage up. To me, they are just plain scary.
Thanks Brad. Your insights are very helpful to this conversation. It’s not like lousy leaders are total losers. They can do some things well. Sometimes they do bad things well, like backstabbing and making others look bad.
Another really tough one… First, I’d talk with colleagues to see where others stand. Then, with or without the colleagues collaborating, I like the notion of doing what you believe needs done – with your boss being informed of what you’re doing. The boss then is aware of what’s happening and, hopefully, work that’s important is being done.still might pay the price of being fired but it’s going to be obvious how arbitrary the boss is.
Thanks John. I can see several benefits of talking this over with colleagues. Are your perceptions shared by others? Are you at the center of the complaints? What do others suggest? The danger of this is the perception that you are gossiping, backstabbing, and undermining leadership.
I guess I was presuming that some sort of an attempt had been made to talk with the boss. Even if it’s a pretty predictable outcome, that should be first. And again, the boss must be alerted to action to be taken (not asking permission, just informing).
I agree that the aforementioned “leader” sucks—as described. I’d like to pose a devil’s advocate scenario: WHAT IF this leader’s role and inadvertent purpose was to evoke and extract the very insights your reader has asked? After all, is it not similar to “just because someone does not love us the way WE want–doesn’t mean they don’t love us with all THEY have.”
If this leader has been of service, if this leader has led another to glimpse more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if others are inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if by being who this leader is others are bettered, then has not this leader been successful?
Frankly, I believe all the “poor traits” lodged against this one leader are more common than we care to admit, with the exception of “boasting while under-performing.” Moreover, I also believe most of our life we are told by “authority figures” the things we can’t do, that we’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they say we’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be that or achieve anything. We hear NO a thousand times, until NO becomes part of us and we believe it. We walk through life with NO quite firmly embedded in our id. That is until we empower ourselves to say YES, first to ourselves—and then to others. YES becomes our magic to life, living, being, and doing!
So, we’ve learned over the years how to deal with this kind of leader—and others like him or her. We either out-fight, out-think or parallel our thinking with them. We’re warned against waging war. We need understanding of what our ultimate goal is and a strategy. Tactics are not strategy. In the business world it’s common for people to confuse the two, because engaging in tactics makes it appear as if we have strategy, even when we don’t. The best leaders first see their goal as “everyone wins,” and then work to develop unique tactics that achieve first consensus and then goal accomplishment. We must also be reminded and prepared to refine or even change our goal, then employ new tactics to achieve it.
Sometimes we have to admit the leadership journey is fun, and it’s not seeing new landscapes but seeing with new eyes.
Good afternoon! Outstanding spin using the “Devil’s Advocate” perspective to Effective Leadership.
You and I share very simular opinions regarding leadership. You often think as I do. I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading your replies to Leadership Freak.
It’s always a difficult thing when a leader’s vision and values don’t necessarily align with your (or your team’s) vision and values. In addition to things that John already said, I found the best way to work with a difficult leader is to talk it over with your colleagues or your team to see what their pain points are specifically with the leader in question. Afterwards, present it to the leader as options on how to proceed. Talk about how this is better for the company, how it matches the company’s goals; if it’s all possible, find a way to give incentive for a leader to change–what’s in it for them? Let them choose the best course of action so you don’t end up stepping over toes and negotiate that way so your team works better under the leader.
If that doesn’t work, as you said, don’t compromise your own visions and values, but it might be important to find somewhere else that more aligns with your beliefs–for the sake of your own well-being.
Good afternoon Dan;
Leaders have to consistantly think of others and put ‘their’ needs and those of their organization before their own. Secondly and more importantly, all Leaders ‘must’ adopt a Servants Heart.
Effecrtive leaders make a connection with their people. Effective leaders are ‘not’ guarded in their conversation with employees, they are forthrite, honest, & humble. Effective leaders do not steal the spotlite from those who are deserving as many do. I call this the (“I’m All-That Syndrome”)! This syndrome, this condition, falsley convinces it’s victom that you’ve reached the Pinnacle of Sucsess. These leaders think without them, their organization would surley drift toward bankruptsy & inevitably go out of business.
Leadership is NOT about Top-Down Influence of others as many (Old School) definations presume. A leader is an integral part of a system connected and driven by ‘Relationships’, good, bad, and ugly. Failure to recognize the power of relationships can result in organizational disaster; disatisfaction, disengagment, and ‘Dead-Weight’!
(LEADERS), truly look at your people with a more Character-Based approach. One with an eye for what human beings bring to the table, “and gain from it.” This commitment to taking respondsability to honor each others worthand the way life itself is expressed through the productivity of people’s hand’s, head’s, and hearts is not only a decision, but a way of life who’s journey NEVER ENDS…
Hi Anncarole and SGT Steve: Wow…are you guys tough on what you see as “new leadership” and the apparent lack of character “light” in the environment today. To some extent I agree with you. To larger degree, I believe this new paradigm shift is about US…our evolution, how we adapt, adjust, refine ourselves…or perish.
If we think back to our novice days as leaders, we wanted “superficial” stuff, like fast answers and solutions, quick fixes, band-aid applications to problems, ready quotes and come-backs for staff members, forms and easy algorithms for issues, and others-made formulae, models and
theories, etc. We wanted to serve the organization rather than the GOAL of the organization.
BUT, as we became more complete, whole, concerned and character-based leaders, our focus dramatically and even radically changed: We became about PEOPLE and service…and all that
you, anncarole and SGT Steve, are all about today.
It takes time to awaken and to learn to communicate, and listen. It takes a special effort to fight against our human nature to be selfish–and to care and “take care” of others. And it takes our introspection to find purpose and reason for our “light.” From your comments, this is who YOU have become. This is who others become too.
Thanks you guys for some insightful comments. Continued blessings and success.
While lousy leadership may be more common than ever, great leaders are not arrogant and they don’t follow the crowd. They follow their convictions. This is traditional leadership with a foundation of objective truth. Unfortunately, we no longer live in “traditional” times. We live in so called “post-modern” times. This post modern leadership paradigm is not expressed by values, convictions, or anything related to truth, which is why leadership is so lousy today. Post modernism is all about subjectivism. It’s not about purpose, but opinion. Without a guiding purpose all that is left is a desire for power. Therefore no matter how it’s packaged to entice, today leadership has been reduced to cheesy power plays and domination, manipulation and exploitation. No, that’s not leadership…that’s just lousy. Fantastic post Dan and super comments all!.
You nailed the (Post-Modernism) thing! The really ‘sad thing’ though, “it’s absolute truth…”
Have a Great day.
“Don’t try to reform a lousy leader, unless you’re willing to lose your job.”
Well done on this, Dan. Great read.
Great post Dan. I have had many great leaders and bosses over the years. Unfortunately I had a few who didn’t fit that bill. Being able to forgive them allowed me to move on rather than having the bitterness build up inside. The first time took some time to come to the realization but the second time it was my first response. In the end I had to leave the place based on a prompting one morning during my morning reading to “get out of the boat” and then an affirmation Tweet that happened on the way to work that answer my question that if the company I was working at was the boat and I was supposed to get out, to understand what’s next or what side of the boat and the tweet affirmed “get out of the boat”, it didn’t say what side so I had to go and figure that part out but I knew the time was getting short for me to be staying.
Keep up the great postings of wisdom and encouragement.
Cuts to my heart… Dishonest? No. However, follow-through and tooting my own horn? Guilty more often than I’d like.
I find that two things help me.
1) Request feedback from an acquaintance, not friends. These are people who see you daily, but with whom you may not have a personal relationship.
2) Action items. These has built-in accountability.
Powerful and very needed.
Keep him/her busy in areas that are not so related to your work. Convince him/her that their next move up “the ladder” involves taking on some of his bosses work. Remain too busy with relevant work to take on some of that new work.
That type of boss has a big ego. The ego is the tool to use.
Careful, that type of person typically understands that a lie repeated enough times becomes truth.
Thanks — I needed to hear this today.
Sometimes you can (skillfully) use humor to make them aware of how they are behaving and that their behavior is damaging to others, without putting them on the defensive. And use humor to help others see them for what they are. But these people are dangerous, if they have built political equity in the organization they can take you out. Tread lightly.