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Equal Opposite Reaction

One confusing aspect of leadership is that even with the best of intentions, you might end up creating the exact opposite reaction.
 
I have experienced this many times as a husband-in-training. We’ll examine the most common leadership missteps you might not even realize you are committing.
 
Even well intentioned leaders will create exactly the opposite reaction to what they had originally expected. Here are some of the most common examples:
 
Punishing Good Performers and Rewarding Bad Performers
 
Leaders do this by heaping more work on good performers while poor performers are rewarded with lower expectations. Initially, this may appear to be the right strategy, after all you need to get the work done. Over time your good employees become resentful and slack off when they realize you won’t confront the poor performers. Balance the workload so that good performers and poor performers are treated equally. Confront your poor performers and implement strategies to elevate their performance.
 
Being Too Helpful
 
When leaders give people answers to every question they may be hurting the team. Giving answers seems helpful at first until you realize that over time you are creating a dependent work team who can’t make decisions without running them by you first. Challenge your people to think for themselves and watch them grow while your stress level drops.
 
Thinking That Avoidance will Preserve Friendships
 
Leaders are often promoted from within and they try to preserve friendships by holding back negative feedback. Would a friend hold back information that could impact their friend’s employment? By ignoring an obvious performance issue, the friendly leader is setting up their worker friend for bigger trouble when the manager has to take care of the problem. A casual comment or question will usually take care of the problem and preserve the friendship.
 
Focusing Too Much on Extroverts and Ignoring Introverts
 
Extroverted, off the cuff thinkers often get promoted. The workplace tends to place greater value on more outspoken individuals. In terms of quality however, introverts often take the time to think more about questions before responding. Just because they don’t volunteer information quickly doesn’t mean they don’t have some insightful opinions. Take the time to harvest the good ideas growing in your more introverted team members.
 
Reflection Questions
 
Do you occasionally scratch your head wondering why your employees are not reacting the way you had intended or hoped? Could you be creating the very reaction you didn’t want?
 
Action Items

  • Take time to reflect on how you might be creating the very reactions you do not desire.
  • Read or take courses to learn more about how to have a constructive leadership approach.
  • Experiment with different approaches to see how it impacts the outcome.

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