Bosses Drive Employees – Leaders Coach Them

Deloitte’s report of Global Human Capital Trends stated, “Despite the proliferation of leadership fads, there are no shortcuts to building a leadership team that is broad and deep. Building leaders requires more than a portfolio of training programs.”

People never forget great leaders and the skills learned from them can last a lifetime. Leaders aren’t just born, they can be cultivated, but it takes an investment. Whether it’s a substantial investment of time by learning from other leaders and/or money from the company, the best leaders are created and cultivated by other great leaders.

Leaders are people who went the extra mile, refused to quit and gave it one more shot. Leaders typically have high levels of stress and anxiety, and have challenges in managing it. People glorify leadership, but then judge leaders on their dysfunctions that were created by overcoming all the obstacles in seeking the leadership position.

A dysfunctional leader is considered the “boss that drives employees.” There are layers to leadership and one person can wreak havoc on an entire organization. It’s up to the next level leader to address the issues and if that person does not, then it’s the next level. Someone has to be responsible for monitoring the climate, without paperwork or assessments.

A leader of leaders, everyone in my responsibility was expected to be a leader. My goal was to always improve workplace climate, increase productivity and excel in our mission, but the first task at hand was shifting the mindset of the existing personnel. Moving offices every few years ensured the techniques were refined and polished with time.

People perform at the level they are expected to perform and if they are berated, called names or frowned upon, they will meet the low expectation. It also creates undue pressure, stress and anxiety. If they are treated with high regard, (even those that perform at low levels), their performance will significantly improve and they will be happier and more productive.

An environment of high expectation, respect and high regard was created, so when new people came in, they quickly adopted the culture. If there are leaders who operated outside of this, the change is noticed quickly. One example:

I had a team of 20 personnel that worked various times of the day and night. They worked with high integrity and ran their jobs seamlessly, so there was no need to micro-manage them. A year later, a new supervisor arrived and after a month, it was secretly reported he was harsh and condescending. (Do your personnel trust you enough to tell you mismatches in culture and know that you will address it?)

We scheduled a quick meeting and when asked about the nature of the meeting, I told him that it had been brought to my attention that the behavior he was displaying towards those he was entrusted to lead was undesired and uncharacteristic of the leadership environment he was working within. Our workload is stressful enough, and adding poor leadership would create unnecessary anxiety and decrease productivity.

His eyes were the size of golf balls and I asked if he knew why people would make that statement about him. He didn’t know. All bad leaders don’t know that their style is bad; some are oblivious. He was informed that talking down to others, and treating them poorly was not needed since the team had high results without safety issues or reports of bad behavior. He then justified his behavior by saying, “I get results” and then started rattling off statistics of tasks that had been completed.

When asked if he could get the same results without the negativity, he stared at me. Then I gave him my definition of leadership. If you lead your team around the winding roads, through adversity, overcoming insurmountable obstacles, and finally reach the top of the mountain, what condition would they be in? Would they be tired, yet excited for achieving the goal or would they be beat down and disheveled. He looked confused. I said, “Will they celebrate with you when you reach your goal at the top of the mountain or throw you off the cliff?  O_O  That’s the leadership test I want you to remember when talking to the people who work for you.”

We talked for another 30 minutes and I discovered he thought he was a great leader. He was indeed a great leader, but he also had dysfunctions. We all do, just in different areas. 🙂 In some offices, his style of leadership was tolerated, but in a culture where mutual respect came first, he was not. I recommended one of my favorite books, the “Alpha Male Syndrome” and told him to do the work to become the great leader he desired. Nearly 2 weeks later, he returned and thanked me because no one ever took the time to give him the insight needed to be a better leader. In his 20+ year career, no one pointed out his deficiencies, offered a tool to fix it and then monitored the progress.

Some people in leadership positions think they may be doing great because they get results, but greater results can be obtained with a few tweaks. Treat people like winners and they will respond accordingly. Treat people like losers, you will stress them out, create anxiety and decrease productivity, which will ultimately lower profits.

Three points key to turning around ineffective leaders.
1.  Have someone work with them on their deficiencies? (Not in an attack, condescending manner or with a 360 assessment) Leaders need to be verbally counseled and not be coached with a piece of paper/assessment.
2.  Offer them tools that address their specific issue. People are unique and need specialized attention. One size does not fit all.
3.  Monitor their progress and acknowledge their improvements.

What characteristics do you think separate bosses from leaders? Have you ever been traumatized by a bad leader? What advice do you have for other leaders? 

Christy Rutherford, an Executive Leadership Strategist, trains leaders on long-standing leadership principles to assist them with realizing their full potential and increase productivity. She also coaches Type A leaders who are suffering from burnout, which impacts their performance at work and home.

Download your free workbook: “Success Roadmap – 7 Powerful Ways To Get Clear On The Results You Desire” at 

Check out the programs designed for you to manage your stress, reduce anxiety and significantly improve your life while you work to make a living.

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