BE A LEADER, NOT A MANAGEMENT BULLY
The management bully still seems to have a presence in some companies and boardrooms despite the modern day obsessions about leadership. Michael Tait shares what he has seen:
There are countless courses and training programmes to train people on how to be leaders and there should be every reason to expect exceptional leadership among our managers. But sadly, in my experience, there are still too many people in management positions who shouldn’t have licence to be in charge of a dog.
I have certainly had the misfortune to encounter such people in my lengthy career. Either working for one or having to clean up the resulting mess in a company turnaround situation. How did these people ever find their way into leadership positions I often ask myself? The answer is often poor interviewing and judgment by the interviewers. Too much emphasis on previous experience and qualifications and not enough assessment of behaviors and style of communication.
I’m a great believer in the adage ‘people leave people not companies’. I am also a great believer in the adage ‘leaders deal in the dreams of others’. This means as a manager, you hold a big responsibility for what someone has worked so hard for and dreamt about in the building of their career. With so much given and invested in studying at college or university and working hard since, why shouldn’t people expect to be led well and nurtured by their manager towards their vision for themselves?
My worst encounter of a corporate bully was while at Unisys. The president of Europe-Africa ran a £3.5 billion division and drove it like a sales branch. He was the epitome of corporate bully and there were bodies lying face down everywhere. Either badly bruised or metaphorically being thrown out of the building. The Europe-Africa board meetings were like a war zone. The high turnover of vice presidents cost the company huge amounts of money and disruption to progress. It was ridiculous that the most important criteria for being suitable for the job was that they had to have the ability to dodge the equivalent of flying bricks. I was fortunate in that I enjoyed the survival challenge and thrived on it. Many weren’t so lucky.
People deserve to be nurtured in their jobs and helped to be a success. Not to be constantly humiliated and beaten up to the point where all their confidence and motivation is shattered. People work at their best when they feel good about themselves and are made to feel valued. Certainly, leadership has to be at its best in turnaround situations and where you have limited time to reach out to people and get their confidence and trust.
My message to my people has been that I am always available to help them. No one gets beaten up or humiliated. I am available to all that put their hand up. My responsibility is to make people succeed by being there for them. If anyone feels they are failing I make it my mission to give them the personal support they need to get through things. No one fails. This is at all levels in the organisation.
Engaging people in your vision and their key role in what you are striving to achieve is a great motivator. The visibility of your passion and commitment to support people lays the foundation to a new sense of energy. The goal is to have people looking forward to coming to work on Monday morning. If anyone mistakes this approach as a weakness and plays politics, they of course get a ride in the ejection seat. But thankfully this is rare and most respond to a giving style. Your role as a CEO or chairman is to ensure this approach travels right through your organisation so that it becomes a deep rooted culture.
If you feel you are not succeeding as a manager, director or even as a chairman because of the negative affect you are having on people around you, there are many courses available to help you understand where you are going wrong. Some words of advice:
- Ensure all jobs are clearly written up in a job description stating comprehensively what the qualifications, experience and required behaviors are before you hire people. Don’t hire until a comprehensive job description is put together.
- Use Criteria Based Interviewing or as it is known these days as Competency Based Interviewing. This forces you to set out key personality and behavioral profiles and then structure testing questions to bring out evidence about the candidate’s style of communication and approach to the job’s requirements.
- I do not like psychometric testing. It can be useful but because recruiting decisions are so difficult, it very often gets relied upon too much and interviewers find it easy to absolve themselves of the decision by relying on what the test results say. For that reason, I can only advise to focus on conducting really strong Criteria Based Interviewing.
- Engage with your staff with a listening ear and an evident commitment to help everyone succeed. Set the pace within the business but never let anyone fall by the wayside. Treat everyone equally and with utmost politeness and respect and this includes your written communication. In this media, extra care is needed to avoid anyone feeling foolish or inadequate or that you do not care about the other persons point.
- If you have any doubt about how you come across to others or about your leadership style, then get help. If you don’t you could end up in that ejection seat just because of your style in handling or communicating with other people despite your other considerable skills and qualities.
Here are some companies that conduct training in leadership and to help you understand how you come across to others:
Here are some useful sites about Criteria Based Interviewing or Competency Based Interviewing:
I was trained in ‘Manager as Leader and Coach’. I can’t remember who delivered this excellent course but here is a company that runs courses in management coaching:
I was also trained in SPIN Sales and SPIN Manager and Coach. These were the best course I have ever been on and they totally transformed my management style. These courses are still available from an excellent company called Huthwaite International. https://www.huthwaiteinternational.com/
Michael Tait works as an interim chairman and is available to mentor CEO’s and managers to become good leaders. Mobile: 07831 105345. firstname.lastname@example.org.