Tuesday, September 1, 2020


A Leadership Anecdote Bad or Worse.. You decide

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other man’s consent. - Abraham Lincoln

This story is inspired by a real incident. However, as the purpose of the article is just to highlight the leadership skills, the context of the incident is being tweaked a little to maintain anonymity. I came across this incident recently and It put me into contemplation.

There was a team working on all the latest and greatest technologies and its leader was taking care of the team very well.

But one sudden day, he got to know that his job is at stake due to organizational changes. He started getting worried and also assumed that without him, the team will also not survive (really ?). In this fast pace of corporate life, do organizations depend on one person. I think he was giving too much importance to himself. Let's keep that aside for a minute.

So the leader called all his next-level leaders and in a 1:1 discussion spilled the beans to each leader separately to get their reaction or I would say instigated them to take action. Don't you think he would have a leadership meeting with all his leaders and discuss the next steps? This raised the eyebrows among many about what's cooking up.

He apprised them that the ship is going to sink soon and he himself is looking out for other career opportunities. He recompensed by assuring them that they are free to make their own choices and they will have his full support whatever they may decide either to stay or move on. It all happened in silo rooms. Why? What was his intention? Was his intention to break the team?

After getting such kind of internal news from a leader to whom the team always looked up to, it's obvious that some of the team members would start getting worried about their career and start looking for other options.

A few of them started exploring in the same organization and got through all interviews. We need to understand that these members, by now, have made up their minds and want to move on to different career paths.

Now, you would be thinking that I will be questioning if this was a correct Leadership action. Was it having a good intention for the organization and business? But No; there is a twist in the story.

Suddenly, after 2 months this leader's stars got changed and his current position becomes stable for at least a year. As he is going to continue the position, his vision for the team got changed, now he needs the team to stay back and work for him. He started blocking their move whomever he could, by using company contracts, HR policies, and using his leadership contacts.

Now, sit back and rewind the whole event. Do you smell a conservative Leadership style here?
I would even say it doesn't fall into any leadership style.

This behavior seems to be of a typical self-centered manager. I am more worried about the mental state of these team members. Will they ever be able to trust this leader? What should they do now? It seems to be an epitome of poor governance from the company that allows this to happen to its employees.

First, the news of his position's loss should have been discussed as a group meeting with the impacted leaders. Having 1:1 with each individual leader and instigating them to share their next action (move-on or continue) was quite concerning for the team.

Then, when his job got settled, he blocked their moves. Think about those employees who gave the commitment to other Leaders that they will join their hands in their journey, now have to back out and lose the face. Will this leader ever be able to see eye to eye with these members.

A true leader must always think beyond and above himself. His every action should reflect the caring, passionate, rational, and decisive qualities for both business and team. If his decision also goes southward, his next steps should be to pour good wishes for his team members and let them fulfill their commitment which was missing in this incident. Blocking someone just because of your own fear to deal with the situation is never a good leadership style. It will damage the working environment of the team for a longer period that cannot be fixed easily.

It's very sad and disheartening to see such a good team breaking up slowly.

What's your thought on this anecdote? What would you do if you were in that leader's position? And what could you try out being the victim of this kind of leadership?

Feel free to share your thoughts through comments. And, if you are interested to know what happened to the team, ping me some time. :)


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