The sad part is they have no idea they have become a caricature of their former self. They are a running joke, not a leader to be taken seriously.
Most leaders landed in their jobs the old fashioned way. They studied hard, worked even harder, and earned their opportunity. Some may have been promoted too soon, and others a bit too late. Regardless of the timing, they have a tremendous responsibility ahead of them.
Yet...somehow their sense of self over powers that early hunger that forged their career path. They act as if the employees should be so excited and grateful just to see them!
Are you kidding me? Sure, some executives cling to their humble roots and create environments where all employees recognize they are just people. But, alas, so many others lose their way and believe they are the reason for the company's success.
Epic. Public. Fail.
Give Me Three Steps
I firmly believe there are three steps that can help executives move from zero to hero, but they require discipline. Massive amounts of discipline.
Admit you don't know NEARLY as much as you think you do. Guess who does? Your team on the front line. Close your mouth and start listening to them. Your sheltered executive world is not in synch with reality.
Recognize the responsibility you have to lead through turbulent times. Every organization experiences the ups and downs of the business world. When times are stressful, full of change, and rife with anxiety, it is your job to be calm, and honest and direct. Do not hide behind a spreadsheet in a fancy conference room. Communicate far more than you think is necessary.
Get the hell out of your office and visit with the team. Do not bring a slide deck, do not spread a message, and please do not attempt to spin every little phrase into an over scrubbed empty promise.
Just be with them.
Your credibility will increase far faster than the next big memo you're so excited about sending to everyone.
How About You
The next time you feel a little (or a lot!) full of yourself, cancel your next meeting, and go spend time listening to the team.
It might turn out that you learn something and actually make a real difference for the people who are relying on you to lead the way.
I'd love to hear from you.