If you don’t see it, it will manage you.
If you do see it, you can manage it.

I read a statistic recently that most people will have a bad boss for approximately 80% of their career. I can guarantee that those 80% of “bad” bosses don’t think they’re bad bosses. So, what’s the disconnect?

For one thing, we judge ourselves based on our intentions, while we judge others based on their actions. I use a wonderful 360 assessment tool in my practice, The Leadership Circle Profile, where leaders rate themselves based on a number of leadership competencies and reactive tendencies, and their colleagues, bosses, and direct reports rate them also. If there is more than a 20% discrepancy in any rating, there’s a disconnect between the leader’s intentions and the experience of those who work with him/her.

When a leader receives this feedback, there is a predictable pattern of response.

That’s why I tell the leader to not do anything with the results for a couple of weeks. Once I see them again, they are usually past surprise and shock, and we can start doing some valuable work. Sometimes, the feedback is contradictory; one person may experience a leader differently than another. But more often, a few themes emerge. Often, the leader will admit that they’ve received this type of feedback their whole career.

Examples include:

  • “She needs to learn to trust her people; she micromanages every detail.”
  • “He always has to be the smartest person in the room. He criticizes every idea that’s not his own.”
  • “She’s so worried about what other people think of her, that she won’t make the hard decisions.
  • They’re a great person; I’m just afraid they’re going to burn out – they take on way too much.

Often times these behaviors are based on deep underlying beliefs and assumptions about the way the world works. When the leader can identify these beliefs and really examine them, they often realize that there are other ways of interacting and can become more intentional about how they show up.

It can be a challenging process and the leaders I work with are courageous for taking this deep dive into their leadership. It can be painful, but I always tell them:

If you don’t see it, it will manage you.
If you do see it, you can manage it.