I once had a boss try to embarrass me in a meeting. I had been on the job about a month and was still trying to learn my way around.
I don’t really remember what she said, but I do remember hearing the roar of blood rushing to my face. I was stunned and momentarily immobilized. I managed to finish what I was doing (I think) but my emotions had been hijacked, rendering me unable to fully function. When I confronted her later, her response was basically, “Yeah, and I did it on purpose….”
Her action and response had a really negative impact on my desire to continue working for her.
Emotional Intelligence guru Daniel Goleman writes in Primal Leadership that the fundamental task of the leader is to prime good feelings in those she is privileged to lead and “that occurs when the leader creates resonance – a reservoir of positivity that frees the best in people”.
The opposite of resonance is dissonance; a dissonant leader throws people off balance and negatively impacts their performance.
A dissonant leader creates employees who don’t want to be there. According to Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, disengaged describes about 70% of American employees and employee disengagement is costing the U.S. an estimated $450-$550 billion annually.
The great thing about being in the military is that you get to experience leadership changes frequently. Either you or your boss will eventually move to another location. So the occasional dissonant leader may make your life miserable for a time … that you know will pass. I decided early in my career to try and learn from the good AND not-so-good leaders.
This particular dissonant leader reinforced for me the truth of a tenet I learned as a young officer…
I understood it to mean I was to provide what was needed to the people I was privileged to lead so they could do their jobs. Providing what they needed wasn’t just ensuring they had the resources they required, a safe physical environment and recognition for a job well done. It also meant creating a culture where people felt safe to make mistakes and being honest when the mistake was mine.
Taking care of the people meant being open and transparent when, for example, a unit I was leading was being outsourced.
It meant not asking my subordinate commanders to drop what they were doing to attend an emergency meeting…that was not an actual emergency.
A leader who understands how to take care of her people is going to attract and retain employees who want the organization to be successful and are actively engaged in creating that success.
Do you know how your leadership is impacting your team?
Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked