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As A Leader, Be Careful What You Ask For

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Early in my career I worked for a COO who was a tyrant. His approach to leadership and motivation was built on command and discipline. More specifically if you didn’t do as he commanded his response was some form of discipline. Periodically repeat offenders would experience his outright rage as his frustration mounted.

Initially his approach gained some traction, providing strong leadership that many were responsive too, however as time rolled on (and his temper tantrums became more frequent and severe), his approach became predictable and in many instances de-moralizing.

The CEO had initially brought the COO hoping that his command and discipline approach would improve the performance within the organization, and initially it did. However after several years the initial gains in performance began to diminish as both senior leadership and employees trust and morale diminished.

Now if this only impacted the organization internally that would be one thing but unfortunately it began to impact customers. Employees disheartened with being spoken to and treated in a disrespectful manner, began venting their frustration with customers.

You see the connection between how a business is operated and its ability to grow are directly related. If internal leadership is disengaging with employees, employees will in turn be disengaging with customers. I discuss this philosophy in great depth in my book Operational Empowerment: Collaborate, Innovate and Engage to Beat the Competition.

What can you do?

The key is for all leaders to understand that their approach to interacting with employees has far reaching effects, impacting external relationships including customers, board members and even brand repute.

The next time you recognize a leader for their direct and demanding approach to leading people, ask yourself if this approach would be just as acceptable if it in turn was used with key external relationships including existing and prospective customers.

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