Late last night the messages and the screen shots started coming in. With each ping on my phone, I became more and more certain: Something was wrong.
Being a Bully Leader
Not in the good way.
It wasn’t long before the issue became clear. A leader that I work with was struggling to handle another leader who was “bullying” her team.“Bullying” was the word one of the teammates used. It wasn’t inaccurate. Reading the screenshots allowed me to appreciate how the members of the team would feel this way. There were threats of withholding incentives, demands for more output from the team, and reference to the financial damage felt by the leader when the team didn’t produce. This leader’s words gave no indication that she had taken into consideration the lives of the people on her team. And they were feeling the sting of this one-sidedness.
In addressing this issue, part of me wants to yell, “Don’t be that person! You’re better than this!” But the hypocrisy in this approach holds me back. My desire to show her that I know she is capable of more, of better, is no excuse to be a bully myself. I need to consider what is going on with the leader that is causing such desperation.
I teach this principle using an analogy: When you get desperate in your business, so desperate that you lash out or start making demands of others (who are really not required to produce for YOU), it’s like putting your hands around the neck of your business and beginning to squeeze. The harder you squeeze , the more you suffocate and stifle your business, until eventually you’ve choked it to death.
This approach never produces the results we’re looking for and teammates always resent being treated this way.
So, the question is… What can you do differently to produce the results you are looking for??
How to Produce Desirable Results From Your Team:
I have several simple suggestions:
- Encourage. Don’t demand. “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” 😉
- Speak individually with the members of your team. Try to understand their situations and find ways to help them.
- Take a deep breath and remember: “It’s NOT about YOU!” (read this post!) Take a minute to put things in perspective and remind yourself that each of your teammates is her own boss and is working for her own reasons. You are not their boss; you are their LEADER. (One other important side note on this one: Your financial obligations are YOURS, not your team’s. It is emotionally unfair to burden them with this stress.)
- Honor the fact that each member of your team has chosen this business for a different reason. Some are in it for the fun. You may not be, but they are. Some are in it for the sisterhood, for the relationships. You may not be, but they are. Some are in it because they love the product and want to get it for a better value. You may not be, but they are. Your reason is not does not have to be the same as theirs. And here’s the kicker: True leadership is about honoring these needs. It’s about being responsible for and accountable to your TEAM. So, ask yourself: what are you doing to meet their needs? Have you created an environment of sisterhood? Do they feel the genuine concern you have for them? Do you spend time with each of them? Are you showing them where there is more value? What do you do to make it fun for them? These are tough questions because they require ACTION – your action.
- And my final suggestion is this: Never lead by fear. Simon Sinek talks about the dangers and pitfalls of fear-based leadership. A tyrant leader who bases their leadership in fear, “exists only to preserve his wealth and power,” Sinek states. “Fear can hurt the very innovation and progress so many leaders of companies claim they are trying to advance.”