Tyrants, Teasers and Turncoats... Leadership at its Worst

Tyrants, Teasers and Turncoats... Leadership at its Worst
The last few days my office has received frustrated calls from senior management from three different organizations about difficult managers who are hurting productivity, employee engagement and causing EEO issues.  All three of the managers are females.  I say that because we are hearing more EEO complaints about female leaders over the last few months.

There is a difference between being a feisty, fearless, focused, fun female leader and a tyrant, tease and turncoat.

Tyrants scream, abuse, ridicule others in public, intimidate and create a workplace environment of fear, frustration and sabotage.  Not only do they intimidate their employees --- they intimidate their leaders.  Tyrants may be experts in their fields, however this is the perfect time to rein them in and give them a choice - change or leave.  Leaders fear them because they 'might' sue the company.  It’s funny how they don't fear the employees of the tyrant.  It is time for the leadership team to be fearless and focused on outcomes - increased productivity, enhanced employee engagement and ownership of the environment.
  • Speak candidly to the employee pointing out the negative behavior. Document your meeting, bring HR into the meeting if necessary.
  • Set clear expectations of corrective behavior.
  • Have a meeting with her staff. Let her team know that you know.  Let her know that her power source (intimidation) has ended. How you say it will be important, however, it’s more important is that it is said. Check with HR and Legal for wording if necessary but do not keep quiet.
Teasers want everyone to like them. Teasers know that they have no power to give promotions or raises and what they really want is power. They like the way it feels to have an employee excited or feel great because of what they can do for others. Teasers dangle promises in front of people without any intention of following through because they can't, but hey, so what, the employees don't know that.  She usually starts with "If you do this, I'll do that...." or "you are so GOOOOOD, I will get a raise for you." Sooner or later people figure out that the Teaser can't follow through. Good people may start leaving the company out of frustration over thoughts that the company' lied to them, when in, fact, it was the Teaser. Senior leaders are kept in the dark. People may not share the truth in their exit interview; because people often feel senior management 'should know'.  Here is how you as the leader can know.
  • Check your employee retention, commendation and promotion stats every quarter.
  • Note how many employees are leaving or transferring from a particular manager. Note how many commendations letters are coming from managers - not enough or overkill are two big warning signs of problems with your management team.
  • Be Fearless and take action.  Coach the Teaser and give her training. Teasers are often lacking professional & leadership development training. They don't know motivational techniques; they are unaware of various employee engagement techniques. Give them training or you will lose good people. 
  • Assess your own training needs. Teasers need guidance from you. You may not know how to give it...uh oh.. are you a teaser? Get help now.

Turncoat are defined in Webster's online dictionary as "A disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend etc." in this case a disloyal person who betrays his employees/team. While a manager is responsible for implementing policies, achieving goals defined by senior management and accomplishing it all profitably and cost effectively, the successful manager does this with the support of his employees and team.  Like a great salesperson, a great manager is someone employees know, like and trust. They know what she stands for, her principles and her vision for the group. Generally they like the manager appreciating her strengths and aptitude, they trust the manager to do the right thing and ensure that employees have the tools and knowledge to complete tasks efficiently.  The turncoat is out for one thing only, them self. She is willing to leave the team in the dust when she sees an opportunity that requires a complete shift of philosophy.  Turncoats create environments of mistrust, self-serving attitudes and a cover your butt mentality among employees.  Most of all a turncoat creates low productivity, low profits and low employee engagement. It is dangerous for a company to be swayed by a turncoat. Leaders must take notice their managers, pay attention to the environment and know when they are being played.
  • Leaders should do walk-throughs regularly. Notice the environment; notice how employees react to you and to their managers. Compare it to other areas.
  • Check in with your gut. If you feel something isn't right, you are probably right, check it out.
  • Have regular coaching sessions with your managers, one on one. Don't wait for their yearly review. Your productivity numbers depend on your coaching ability.
  • Stay focused, take notice of when your ego is being stroked. 

Tyrants, teasers and turncoats... your time is coming, be warned, you need to change. Your leaders are watching you.

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