Last week, I blogged about making your leadership transition like a sunrise, not like a tornado.
But behaving with grace as a leader is not just for the first days of your leadership run. It’s meant for every day.
Unfortunately, we all know the leaders who think that being the meanest, rudest, loudest person possible makes them the best kind of leader. Why are there so many leaders like that?
I have a theory.
The people that behave like that in the workplace are trying to overcompensate for inadequacies in their private lives.
The iron-fisted workplace leader is the henpecked husband whose wife berates him for not taking out the trash on time.
The loud workplace leader is the family member that can’t get anyone to listen to her when people aren’t paid to listen to her.
The workplace leader with the big office, big car, big ego, and big mouth has such small private possessions, like a tiny wiener dog.
A true leader knows that his or her inspiring presence alone is enough to bring out the best performance in people. Wannabe leaders feel that they have to growl and shout and demean employees in order to get their attention because they simply don’t have that inspiring presence that comes from natural talent combined with a track record of success. They see the meekness of their tiny wiener dog at home and put on a charade that they are the opposite: the alpha.
We often hear “alpha” used in the longer term “alpha male.” And, in business, I have tended to see more men than women use the “Watch-how-I-can-overpower-you” behavior, but I won’t ascribe this behavior to men alone.
From Wikipedia, here is some background on the alpha:
In studies of social animals, the highest ranking individual is sometimes designated as the alpha. Males, females, or both, can be alphas, depending on the species…Alphas may achieve their status by superior physical strength and aggression.
But, you see, the alpha approach to leadership is something specific to the animal kingdom. Humans, with our advanced intellectual capabilities and mental strength, do not need “superior physical strength and aggression” to be successful leaders.
But someone in a leadership position who feels they lack advanced intellectual capabilities and has physical reminders of a lack of strength – like a tiny wiener dog at home – will try to behave like an alpha. They have shortcomings and they do not want anyone to perceive those shortcomings. So, they attempt to shroud their weaknesses in a facade of power.
They think that they are being perceived as a strong leader. But, employees simply tend to perceive them as jerks.
When is the last time that you were motivated in your heart to help a jerk achieve all the success s/he wants?
Actually, when you are dealing with a nasty manager, you tend to think more about how much you hate the manager rather than how you can to help him/her succeed. That obviously is not beneficial for the manager. But, it can also eat away at you and end up harming your own career, which is not good.
So, here’s how I recommend dealing with it: When you are confronted by that jerk of a manager, don’t think “Man, I really HATE that jerk!” Instead think, “Aw, poor dude is trying to compensate for having such a small wiener dog.” It will help you drown out the noise and focus on furthering – or at least not hurting – your own career.
And, if you are one of those leaders with the boisterous tendencies, do you want all of your employees to be able to tell how small your wiener dog is?
Lead with the advanced intellectual capabilities given to humans (regardless of what type of pet you have).