Magazine article HRMagazine

From Terrible to Transformational

Magazine article HRMagazine

From Terrible to Transformational

Article excerpt

Recognize your flaws as a boss. Then take steps to correct them.

When it comes to leading, how good are you? I mean, really? As leaders, most of us take pride in our ability to work with others, be agents of change and guide teams through the ups and downs of operational life. Typically, we have strengths and weaknesses. Transformational leaders admit weaknesses and face them openly. Terrible bosses think they have nothing to learn and that any shortfalls are the result of others' shortcomings or of circumstances beyond their control. Psychologists call this the "fundamental attribution error," and it is endemic in our culture and our companies.

In case you are a manager who is blind to your shortcomings, here are some sentiments that signal it's time to develop better leadership skills:

"I know everything." You sit through training on interpersonal communication or leadership skills, and leave thinking the information doesn't apply to you. You report to your team that you learned little, if anything. Welcome to hubris, dear leader. Your lack of humility and resistance to change suggest you are set in your ways and blind to information that can help you.

"I'd leave if I could." You've said to someone on your team, "We're lucky to have jobs" or, worse, "You're lucky to have a job." By delivering this message, you devalue your people and the organization, and inspire fear in a passive-aggressive manner. You lack empathy-and your team resents you for it.

"Did you hear about ... ?" You gossip to team members about other team members. Speaking poorly of others speaks poorly of you. Gossip is bad for morale, superficial, unprofessional and possibly unethical. It makes people wonder what you are saying about them.

"I'm above review." You consider 360-degree feedback to be impractical or a bad fit for your organization. If this is your response to a full review from supervisors, peers and subordinates, you are afraid of change and that your weaknesses will be exposed. If you think there is nothing you need to improve, you are in deep water. Even when they don't have a chance to provide feedback, people know your weaknesses. They've also lost respect for you for not facing them.

Facing Weaknesses

Rudimentary leadership skills include task competence in your field, a strong business sense and basic intelligence. Becoming a transformational leader requires humility, charisma, openness to change and interpersonal skill. Developing these qualities requires a willingness to grow and a tolerance for candid selfassessment. …

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