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Two factors that are killing leaders

Source | LinkedIn : By Rahoul Joshii

I once met a highly pedigreed CEO who had worked with the best in the industry, studied at the best b-school in the world, drawing a hefty salary in Euros, highly clued in and networked. At work, however he was abusive, unreasonably aggressive, micro managing, often bent rules and policies for his favourites, humiliated people in public. He was the tyrant people worked for out of choicelessness. Everyone in that organization looked at self as a victim and a temporary dweller of that `septic tank’ (that’s what they called it). In three years he was not able to grow his business only marginally and blamed his team’s attitude and capability for it.

In another case, there was this maintenance head of a big ticket appliances manufacturing plant. He always aspired to become the production head. Being the eldest child he always made sacrifices for his younger siblings, took up  a job after completing his diploma whereas he wanted to pursue engineering, financed his brother’s education, got his sisters married and married late. He buried his passion for dramatics and music. At work he could never ask anything for himself. In spite of being qualified in production engineering he contended with a job in maintenance department, always went out of his way to please his internal customer and got nothing in return, pushed his subordinates towards the roles they aspired for but could never make a strong pitch for his own aspirations. He feels like he is standing at the end of the tunnel.

Both these leaders were subjected to development centres, leadership education at ivy leagues etc with little change. Leader’s personality is a crucial but often overlooked aspect of leadership. What mettle leaders are made up of determines what they create. I came across many leaders with challenges related to the`issue of authority’ and low self esteem. This is one of the most common finding of our fraternity of behavioural process consultants. Yet there is no recognition of these challenges in India Inc and no focused effort to work with them. These things are overlooked by some of the leading coaching frameworks that only superficially focus on outcomes, turning a blind at the root cause.

Many leaders we worked with across levels could not confront or influence bigger leaders. Issue of authority is usually camouflaged as a social norm of `respect the seniors’. In reality, we project our primary system on to our seniors/ bosses/ teachers and create stereotypes. Those stereotypes drive our actions. So my boss is like my father who was always so critical of me, never appreciated anything good in me, made all choices for me and my boss does the same therefore I don’t get along, I don’t suggest, I don’t share ideas, I only do as he says. First leader in my examples had experienced a very troubled childhood and was so angry that he always manipulated people for his personal victories.

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