Trick or Treat Leaders


Yes it’s that time of year again, your doorbell rings and you answer, knowing that what you see at your door really isn’t what it appears to be. The masks and the costumes have nothing in common with who is behind them… at least we hope so. I was thinking how much this resembles hiring for leadership positions. Those who come before you with their resume in hand may not be what they appear to be.

“My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.” — Jack Welch

Tricked or Treated? There may be some ghouls lurking in your organization, so it’s important to know who’s behind the masks. You want to avoid the frightening experience of being tricked by a leader who isn’t a good fit for your organization. We all would rather be treated to a leader suited for the position, effectively exceeding all expectations. So, let’s take a closer look at some leaders whose character flaws may possibly go bump in the night. Monsters Under the Bed This fear driven leader is always looking under the bed to be sure that failure isn’t waiting to spring into action when the lamp is turned off. This skittish director is sure that the monster is planning to undermine their credibility, and take away their position. Note to Self: Fear driven people tend to be positional leaders. They’re more about self-preservation than about empowering others. Look for those who empower others. Skeletons in the Closet Here’s another fearful leader who’s keeping a close watch on the closet door, always afraid that some suppressed incident or personal conflict from the past; will suddenly introduce itself to colleagues and executives, and ultimately cost them their job. Note to Self: Having a good personnel assessment as part of your company’s operating system, can help valuable leaders overcome their fears and failures to help them become a surprising treat to the company. “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” — Tom Peters Invaded by Body Snatchers I’m sure we’ve all had it happen, when one zombie creeps in undetected, and begins devouring one team member after another with negative talk. It could be bad mouthing other employees, breeding mistrust for other leaders by sabotaging good ideas, until an exodus of personnel begins. Note to Self: Understanding the difference between “personal-oriented” and “personnel-oriented” leaders will safeguard your leadership team’s chemistry. Clarifying expectations and the organizations’ culture upfront can also go a long way toward keeping members of your leadership team on the same page, keeping them from the body snatchers. The Phantom This masked leader has a dark side, promising the moon and stars, and delivering nothing. When crunch time comes and everyone else is feeling the pressure, this ghoul is nowhere to be found. He/she is either calling out sick, always on a break, or conspicuously missing from team huddles. Note to Self: Develop leaders who are all in, it will save you from an untimely discovery that when they’re needed most they really weren’t in at all. Asking the right questions reveals who’s behind the mask when assembling a leadership team or working with your present team.

  • Ask yourself if they add value to people?

  • How do they interact with your team and those they’re leading?

  • Are they empowering or discouraging those who work with them?

  • Ask them what motivates them, and what brings them the most satisfaction?

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” - Peter Drucker *** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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