Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tyrants and Translators

Leadership is hard. In her recent post over at Fistful of Talent Suzanne Rumsey detailed how challenging it can be to fill the shoes of a leader, even with the help of a skilled leadership coach. Her piece raises some fundamental issues about whether or not studying leadership actually makes any difference in your leadership effectiveness.

Effectiveness. Good word.

A Rocky Road
I like to think that I am a reasonable leader. At least that's what my self-talk machine keeps pumping into my head. I've overcome some tough leaders over the years, and hopefully there isn't someone out there who feels the same way about me. Odds are however, that I've offended someone even though I never intended to. That's on me.

One of the biggest advantages of working for leaders that we do not aspire to emulate is that we learn. Oh boy do we learn! From the supervisor way back in my early years who threw someone out of a meeting (yes, I mean literally threw); to demanding that someone be fired immediately; to generally being so spineless they couldn't make a decision; I feel like I've seen (and learned) an awful lot about ineffective leadership.

Translator Please
But how does one take those negative experiences and turn them into positive behavior? Is it as easy as remembering "wow, I better not throw anyone out of a conference room!" I think it might be more than that. How about "using a checklist to make sure I'm doing the right things each day?" That's probably not enough either.

Here's what I do know...if you treat people poorly you're doing a lousy job. I guess if I start there and move forward I'm probably doing alright.

How About You
How do you remain effective? Do you believe every word of that self-talk voice? Do you grip your title nice and tight as an excuse to behave any way you'd like? Or, is it something else that makes a difference?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit


  1. In the boating industry, I was the only woman on the management team at this facility. During one board meeting, the CEO began systematically firing people because of poor boat sales. The people on either side of me at the table were each let go, told to pack up their things and leave. To cope, my thoughts turned to their benefits, COBRA, severance etc. I learned that ruling with fear never works. The rest of the management team were rattled for at least a week.

    1. That is a tough environment! Wow! Thanks for sharing.