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About Jacquie

Jacquie Molloy guides senior leaders to develop and display leadership authority (what she calls Authoritas); helps Boards to discover the power (and imperative) of exploring differences of opinion through Debate; and shares the practices for personal authority, high-performing teams and cultural excellence with individuals and organisations so they can be Visible in all the right ways.

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Friday
Jul202018

Leadership gaffes big and small

What a week!
 
Watching DJT’s European trip and Helsinki press conference and then the aftermath, including his – and his spokespeople’s — poorly executed walk-backs has been an alarming experience.
 
(Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you what I think about all this with my ‘comms fixer’ hat on.)
 
If we consider leaders — and the various archetypes of leaders (which is to say the patterns of behaviour associated with different types of leaders) — then DJT is about as full bodied representation of the shadow leader archetype as you can be.
 
He is the anti-king. Not a full tyrant or despot (yet!). But certainly not a benevolent provider whose mission is to benefit those in his charge.
 
Rather his behaviour — and never more so than this past week, writ large on the world stage — displays four obvious shadow traits:

  1. Leaning towards excessive entitlement
  2. Annoyance with, and punishment of, those who disagree and dissent
  3. Reluctance to hear a range of voices and views
  4. Inability to promote others’ ideas above his own (except in vague ‘everyone’, ‘lots of people’ and ‘nobody’ ways)

But this is an extreme situation surely … our CEOs and Chairs and those most senior execs are not DJT and our Australian business culture in 2018 cannot accommodate such poor leadership.
 
Well, friends, let me draw back the curtain for you. Because in my conversations with many senior leaders — those who have become clients and those who have not — I have seen and heard it all.
 
And in those conversations and confidences shared and problems solved, I’ve seen, and learned about, behaviours that, left unexamined, are precisely the factors that go on to cause career stalls, culture crashes, high pot exits and weak legacies (not to mention bad headlines and public scrutiny). 

Behaviours like:

  • Can’t/won’t say no in the room (keep people guessing and situations open-ended)
  • Avoid interactions with those who make them feel uncomfortable (regardless of where that person sits in the org) or who feel too ‘unlike’ them
  • Have poor emotional intelligence (EQ) and/or have difficulty demonstrating empathy and humility — especially in their managing down or in shareholder communications
  • Don't ‘appreciate’ being called out on their behaviour or shortcomings and so actively design their schedules and team practices to safeguard against it (easier to be 'too busy')
  • Lead with their title – sometimes literally but most often using the implied superiority of their position to insulate and intimidate.

Some of this is conscious; some not.
 
My point is this: it’s all very well and good to point and stare at leadership train wrecks on the world stage, but you don't have to go full-DJT to be a poor leader or cause chaos in your organisation and uncertainty in your direct reports.
 
Leadership is a tricky business and you cannot underestimate the impact of these quieter and less obvious 'gaffes' and omissions.
 
Keep your eye on what’s important. Be self aware. Stay sharp. 

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