I'm not sure what's going on lately, but I'm encountering more rude managers than ever before. Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's a sign of the times. Whatever the reason -- I don't care. Rudeness, bullying, treating team members, customers, vendors, and others with disrespect is wrong. True leaders don't do that; cowardly individuals with leadership titles do. True leaders give and then earn respect; cowardly individuals demand respect and fail to give it. True leaders create teams and organizations that pull together and succeed; cowardly leaders thrive on creating conflicts among team members and wonder why their organization's never seem to operate smoothly.
Let me share just two examples of cowardly leadership:
- A privately-held company is transitioning ownership to the second generation. The sons are taking over the leadership positions and are planning to grow their business outside the U.S. versus continuing to build it domestically. Fine. They have every right to determine their company's growth strategies. However, the new "leaders" held individual "Company" meetings with the current senior staff in a restaurant, during which they fired each senior staff member for "Lack of Performance". The "leaders" thought if they held the meetings in a public place, each employee would be less likely to make a scene. These "leaders" for some reason believed this was the right way to treat their long-term employees: Lie to them about the reason for the meeting; lie to them about the reason for their employment termination; and then force them to deal with this humiliating and infuriating situation in a public restaurant. They would rather repeatedly treat loyal employees poorly, than simply be true leaders and have honest, upfront conversations with their employees about their business decisions.
- A team of highly-respected members of the community were participating in a series of work sessions. To the community, for the most part, they appeared to be a tight-knit, highly effective group. However, outside the work sessions and behind the scenes, they would back-stab, and focus more on how to demean and demoralize one another instead of how to create additional, pro-active initiatives for the community. During one of the work sessions, a few of the team members almost came to blows as they unknowingly started to behave publicly, as they'd only done in private: Sarcasm; veiled, negative comments; and out-right rude comments broke through. Needless to say, it wasn't pretty. Community members were stunned. These "leaders" had each decided it was more important for them individually take a stand, "win," and "publicly kick someone else's @&$" than to focus on being leaders, professionals, and role models.
I wish I could say I was making up these stories, but I'm not. To me, they're the epitome of narcissistic and cowardly leadership. Leadership is about courage and accountability. It's about putting your comfort zone and needs AFTER your team's needs. It's being accountable to do the job you're being paid to do. It's being courageous enough to do what's right and respectable, even when it's painfully hard. Employees, customers, vendors, and all other stakeholders count on leaders to do the right thing and be the type of leader they want to follow. Effective leaders know:
It takes courage to be a leader. Be courageous and show some respect.
Copyright MMXIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!