Posted by: Bill von Achen | December 17, 2010

Managing Yourself as a Leader

As a leader, do you find yourself constantly complaining about the weaknesses of those around you?  If so, it’s quite possible that you’re part of the problem.

That’s one of the takeaways from a recent blog post by management consultant Liz Wiseman.  Her blog post is entitled “How to Bring Out the Best in Your Boss,” but the message also has a powerful implications for those leaders who find themselves struggling to get the most out of their employees.

In her research, Wiseman found that 43% of executives in large companies get less than 50% of the capability of the people around them.  The root cause of the problem?  These “diminishers,” as Wiseman labels them, do most of the talking, always have to have the last word, and usually find a way to demean the ideas of others

If you’ve ever worked for a diminisher at any point in your career, you know first-hand the impact that such behavior can have.  Rather than take responsible initiative, you’re likely to fall into “dumb mode,” and simply wait to be told what to do, rather than face a barrage of criticism from someone who thinks he/she knows better. 

Wiseman’s advice for employees who find themselves working for diminishers is to “listen to learn,” that is, to look past the diminsher’s criticism to the genuine insight that is being offered.   She also recommends finding ways to engage and exploit the diminisher’s strengths in diagnosing problems, rather than waiting for them to unilaterally take charge. 

It’s great advice for an employee who works for a leader with diminsher tendencies.  But it’s also a reminder to leaders that their personal behavior has a powerful impact on their employees, and has the potential to lift, or limit, the overall success of their organization. 

Think about your performance as a leader. What behaviors do you engage in that diminish your employees, rather than multiplying their efforts?  And what steps could you take to alter the balance between diminisher and multiplier?  Post your comments here.  Thanks!

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