Unbelievable Leadership: Keys to Avoiding a Bad Boss Reputation

People are people whether at work or at home. And, their relationships ARE work.  They’re like a garden…needing preparation, maintenance, nurturing and space to grow.  So what goes wrong when people have differences that get in the way of getting along?

My passion for understanding people goes back to my child hood growing up in a family that didn’t do well with conflict.  I’ve spent my entire career working with people in relationships but got curious about how good people end up as bad bosses.  So I went back to school to learn more…and started looking for leaders in trouble!  Now, my goal is to bring peace to leaders in conflict!

Gallup (2008) took an in-depth look at the “State of the Workplace” and what they found was startling!

  • Do you know that nearly half of all conflicts at work are directly related to personality clashes?
  • Three out of ten of those conflicts come from bad bossing.
  • More than half of all employees, at any level, really don’t care about their jobs, much less the organization they work for.
  • This means they are disengaged from what’s really going on!

Why does this matter?  GALLUP estimates that this costs American businesses $359 billion across the nation!

·         When employees are unhappy, they leave.  Do you know that replacing an employee costs 150 to 200 percent of that person’s salary and benefits?  Losing even a mid-level employee making $30,000 a year could cost your company $45-60K or more to replace.  Good people leave good organizations because of bad bossing!

 ·         Yet, keeping a dysfunctional relationship at work can be even more costly…leading to lost productivity, sabotage, poor quality, and lawsuits for hostile workplace environments and many more!

So, think about the kinds of conflicts you’ve experienced in your life…what’s really at the heart of those conflicts?  It’s oftentimes about differences in perception.  It’s about understanding how we come across to others…how we impact others…and how our own behavior can provoke an emotional reaction in others.

It takes courage and curiosity to really understand the emotional intelligence of how we engage.  It’s the power of connections that pulls people and projects together. The quality of relationships…feeling trusted and appreciated… is what deepens the connection and motivates us to perform.  That’s what Unbelievable Leadership™ is all about!

Here are some examples of how things can be turned around:

1)      Heineken contacted me in 2013…they were at their wits end after a year of trying to resolve a conflict internally between two top account managers.  The conflict had grown so difficult that it was impacting one of their big accounts.  One or both of the employees was going to have to go if things didn’t change. In just 3 months through coaching and preparing for mediation, we were able to unravel a year of hostility.

2)      Last year, a trusted colleague called upon me to help one of his longtime friends and progenitor of a family-owned business.  Revenues were down after the recession, power struggles had broken out, financial choke-holds put in place, and family members and employees were not talking.  By helping Mom and Dad look at their own behavior, they were able to recognize the impact they had on the family dynamics and we were able to come up with options for restructuring the organization in ways that better met the family members’ needs.

3)      A couple of years ago, I worked with a 3rd generation family-owned business.  Dad hit 60 and wanted to bring in his three adult children, all in their very early 20’s, into the family business.  Great idea but riddled with family conflict.  Mom found me out of frustration with the intense sibling rivalry being carried out in the workplace…Dad felt immobilized to do much about it.  Within five months, we were able to define roles and responsibilities, establish boundaries between appropriate workplace behavior and unhealthy family dynamics, establish Dad’s leadership in the business as well as mediate through some of their differences.

These conversations take time, energy and effort.  Compared to the real costs of sticky situations, it’s a small investment. When there’s trouble that gets in the way of profits and good working relationships, there are strategies for turning things around.  The keys to Unbelievable Leadership™ start with courage and curiosity, self-examination of one’s leadership style, looking at how one presents and impacts others, building emotional intelligence, expanding awareness around cultural/gender/generational differences, and developing skills to navigate through conflict.

When this happens, we’re on the way to an engaged workforce with unbelievable results!