Are 'aggressive dictators' ruling your company?

by L&D27 Jun 2016
Too many workplaces are run by “aggressive dictators” aiming to use fear and control to get results, according to Mike Irving, recruiter, business owner and leadership performance coach.

In reality, leaders could enable better employee performance if they did the exact opposite, he added.

In most cases the boss doesn’t realise their style of leadership may equate to bullying, as they are unaware of how they come across, said Irving.

They are also in fear of losing control, which can create an “uneasy and fearful environment for staff”.

“The culture of a workplace is defined by its leader - for example, a business owner unwilling to pay attention to detail will attract employees also unwilling to look at the details,” Irving said.

“A boss with a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude will harness the same attitude in the office, so problems will get missed, or not dealt with accordingly, as they believe it will all come together in the end anyway.

“There are bosses who over-react when there’s a problem, which doesn’t take long for their staff to do the same.”

Consequently, a small issue is “bigger than Ben Hur” and everyone will be "pointing the finger", said Irving.

He added that leadership challenges are not limited to big corporations, as small and medium-sized businesses face similar issues.

“In the 12 months since the start of the Fair Work Commission in 2014 there were 676 claims for stop bullying orders, which begs the question: How many more victims stayed silent?” he said.

“There are leadership training programs that can improve the situation tenfold, but there are also a lot of programs that miss the mark.”

Irving said that many businesses have a budget for training programs, but fail to do their research.

Instead, they spend their money on being spoken to from a lectern "before hitting the golf course".

“Leadership training programs work when they are practical and experiential, so leaders can put their new knowledge into practice and get feedback from their staff,” said Irving.

“Anyone can be a good leader if they are prepared to improve their self -wareness and empathy.”

Irving added that bosses wanting to increase staff productivity and build powerful teams could look at improving their own leadership skills first. This is particularly in the following areas:
  • Experiential training: Physically practicing the newly learned skills and receiving real time feedback will help eradicate bad habits in leadership and ensure implementation.
  • Communication: Learning how to handle staff who are upset or not present in the conversation despite them being there. Engaging staff and building trust to open the lines of communication.
  • Empathy: The key skill of leadership is empathy - the ability to understand what is happening for someone else, and the ability to handle them and communicate with them appropriately given the circumstance
  • Control: Top performing teams are those who choose to be on the team. They are not being controlled by anyone other than themselves. The way to gain this level of support is to ensure your team are always in control and you are the conductor of the orchestra.
  • Delegation: The ability to delegate involves letting go of control and trusting someone else to get the job done for you. The more they are empowered and totally choosing to do the job, the better the quality of outcome you’ll get.
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