Mailbox Inquiry:Help!

Help: I have a great employee who is so abrasive I am at the end of my rope. How can she be so good and so terrible at the same time? What can be done?

Employers are frequently faced with the dilemma of having a manager who, in spite of being a dynamic thinker, a powerful strategist, a skilled technician and someone who knows how to deliver the goods, is horribly abusive toward their co-workers. The employer is then put in the position of having to consider whether or not the benefit of their contribution outweighs the costs in terms of staff turnover, liability, and reputation. 

Nowhere in the research do we see any suggestion of the dichotomy.  Typically, leadership is measured by extremes – good or bad, angels or demons, when, in fact, what we often have is a good business leader and a bully in the same person. 

The common assumption is that abrasive leaders are always overly authoritarian but research shows that laissez-fair leadership is just as apt to be associated with reports of bullying.  That is why we call bosses who exhibit the behavior destructive leaders

Contrary to popular belief, abrasive behavior is not necessarily a psychodynamic issue.  Very often it is rooted in the conflict between trying to achieve the goals of the organization and satisfy the needs and interests of one’s subordinates. Who wouldn’t find it difficult to be a constructive leader when the pressure is on to meet seemingly disparate demands? 

So, now we know that leaders are capable of demonstrating both destructive and constructive behaviors at the same time.  Therein lays the conflict and the opportunity because with proper training and coaching the problem can be overcome.  Destructive leaders must first learn how to empathize with their team members, to trust that they will deliver on their commitments, and to recognize that the burden of achievement does not rest squarely on their shoulders. Once we reduce the destructive behaviors we can then move toward rewarding the constructive ones. 

It’s important to note, however, that these new behaviors CANNOT be mandated. Specialized coaching and training is required that takes into account the good boss/bad bass dichotomy and then focuses on developing healthy communication skills.

The Creating Constructive Leaders Program from Confidence Connections is an 8-12 -week program that includes an on-site assessment of the abrasive behavior and a substantive coaching intervention that is based on sound research, proven strategies and client feedback.  We even offer a pre and post-test survey to help focus the coaching and document both the problem and the results. For more information contact us directly.  

We promise that if we cannot help you, we will not take the assignment.  Guaranteed.