Are You Too Tough a Leader?

My wayTruly effective leadership is an illusory quality even among those at the top of their organization. The best leaders simply lead because they:

1. Inspire others
2. Articulate a clear vision about where the company is going
3. Create performance expectations and standards
4. Are seen as fair and just

An evolved leader needs to walk a fine line between being seen as approachable and respected, but also one which employees have a (small amount) of fear—or minimally understand that poor performance won’t be tolerated. When the leader leans too heavily on “being tough” it threatens the culture of the company and ultimately results in neutered employees and poor performance.

There’s a really smart article I recently read in the November 19, 2015 Forbes called 3 Signs Your Leadership Style is Too Tough, which addressed this issue head-on. The author, Mark Murphy, suggested 3 signs:

1. You Walk Into a Room and People Stop Talking
This is a sure fire sign that the leader leans too heavily on the fear factor

2. When You Give Constructive Feedback, Employees Are Very Quiet
Again it’s a sign of fear where there is little dialog.

3. You Do More Than 60% of the Talking In Meetings
Unless the meeting is merely just called for the purpose of disseminating some information first hand, a meeting where the leader dominates is a turn off to employees.

Evolved leaders are ones which “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood” (Covey’s 5th Habit).

The balance of providing inspirational leadership combined with high performance expectations is not an easy one. The best leaders are ones which have the skill to understand the balance.

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