If you want to know whether or not you are a leader, turn around and see if anyone is following!
The role of “leader” in a business is never easy and for those in charge of a region, division, plant or other significant business unit, the responsibilities are many and the tools for positive impact are few.
One of my roles these days is to advise business leaders on how to focus on the things that have the most positive impact on people and performance, and I also get the privilege of supporting their development and learning as a leader. Rather than point out the obvious, I tend to look for those few behaviours that unconsciously sabotage their leadership effectiveness. And many of these “sabotage” behaviours are totally invisible to them; they don’t realize they are behaving this way and certainly don’t understand the negative impact of such behaviour.
You can’t solve a problem you don’t know exists!
One of the biggest leadership self-sabotage behaviours is what I have termed “triangle communications”, which is a nice way of saying, talking about other people to a third person instead of talking directly to the person.
By way of illustration, let’s say that Al has a problem that involves Bob. Bob either did or said something that upset Al. Instead of talking directly to Bob about the issue and patching it up, Al talks to Charlie about what Bob said or did. Then somehow Charlie goes and talks to Bob about what Al said, and now everyone is upset. Communication stops and barriers between people build up. And more often than not the actual event gets more and more distorted and negative with each retelling.
So, what’s this got to do with leadership? Lots !!
If Al is in a leadership role, his habit of triangle communications sabotages his leadership effectiveness. Let’s do a classic Ben Franklin +/- on this behaviour.
Lots of negatives and very few positives as a result of this behaviour. And the sad truth is, many of those in leadership roles have multiple triangle communications daily, thus limiting their leadership effectiveness.
There is only one antidote to triangle communication behaviour. Courage. The courage to sit down directly with the other person and deal with the issue head on. And surprise, chances are the problem is more a misconception or misinterpretation than a reality. And once faced and openly talked about, the issue subsides, trust and respect is built and your leadership capabilities strengthened.
Don’t Do Triangles!
Written and Posted by: John R. Childress
Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid
John also writes thriller novels!