March 24, 2014
MBC, Inc. Communication – Volume 1 Issue 2
MBC, Inc. Newsletter Topics on “Leadership”
As Inspired by “The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell”
Helping you get involved in Leadership Development Seminars
Know When to Make People Angry and Know Who to Make Angry
One of the memorable things the author, Oren Harari, says about General Powell is, “He’s unfailingly polite-the very embodiment of civility”. With this in mind it must be understood that leadership is never about intimidation. People that are bullied, intimidated or belittled are not going to be creative, innovative or motivated to produce. This seems to be contradictory to the title, but is actually completely in line with approach of the General.
The leader must always stand ready to make people angry, sometimes really angry, in the pursuit of organizational excellence. Leadership is exercised over a wide variety of organizational functions, tasks and a multitude of people. The leader must spark high performance of the entire organization and provide for the welfare of the whole team, be it large or small.
“Making people mad was part of being a
leader. As I had learned long ago… an
individual’s hurt feelings run a distant
second to the good of the organization.”
General Colin Powell
With this groundwork in place let us think for a few minutes about what it means to “make the right people – really angry”. Not everyone in the organization will be a high performer. Not everyone will meet the expectations of the organization, neither the leaders, nor the peers, nor the subordinates. When this kind of unacceptable performance is encounter, the leader must take action. It is the small percentage that an effective leader will sometimes anger. If the leader does not address this poor performance, negligence or apathy the entire organization will suffer great harm.
Here lies the place where the leaders will show their mettle, it is not easy to address poor performance. Addressing perceived poor performance also cares risk that the leader must be aware of throughout the investigation process. First the leader must exercise great listening skills. Engage the member in a conversation about expectations, performance and determine if the person being addressed is aware of his/her poor performance. This can be a difficult assessment. You, the leader, are sure this individual is not performing to expectation.
- Does the individual know what the expectation(s) are?
- Does the individual have the training, tools and resources to meet the expectation(s)?
- Does the individual have the job skills and time to meet the expectation(s)?
These are important questions the leader must address. This is as much a test for the leader as it is a test for the subordinate. Remember even when conversations are in private, usually the organization’s ‘grape-vine’ knows what is going on. If the leader takes punitive action against a member for non-performance, and the reason is systemic and out of the control of the member. You the leader have damaged the organization.
When the answer to any of the above questions is “No”, the fault lies with the leader, not with the member. Many leaders have a great deal of difficulty with this assessment. It is always easy to blame a subordinate. It is a great trial of the leader to blame their self.
First find the root cause of the poor performance, if the root cause lies with the system and not with the member, the blame lies fully at the feet of the leader that did not provide the proper; training, direction, tools, resources, time and/or definition. If the investigation determines that this is indeed the case. The leader must take steps or action to correct the short comings of the system and provide the member with the proper support. It is not easy to blame yourself.
If the investigation shows the proper tools, training, resources, etc are provided and the fault lies with the member the leader must take action here also. To “sweep-this-under-the-rug” and ignore the problem sends a clear signal to all the other members that “You the leader” will not step up to the hard-calls. The perception may be you-are-afraid to face conflict. This can spread like a cancer throughout the organization, a cancer of apathy. Once the leader allows apathy to take hold and grow the task of leadership becomes exponentially more difficult, perhaps unrecoverable.
This is the time, and this is the person, the leader must address even when the result is an angry member. This person may well go to their peers with charges of “You-just-can’t-please-the-boss”. The leader should not worry, the organization knows, because the grape-vine carries all the news. The team will know you assessed the situation, found the member to be lacking/negligent/apathetic etc. This step alone will let the members of the organization know that you are working hard, making the hard decision, taking the hard action and those that are also working hard will know “they are appreciated”. Actions such as these will often inspire loyalty, instill dedication and bring a renewed sense of commitment to many on your team.
If the leader befriends the incompetent at the neglect of the dedicated the organization suffers the consequence. This is the outcome of making the WRONG people “really-angry”.
The General gives us three guiding thoughts.
- “Make performance and change top organizational priorities”: This is the encouragement of action, encourage experimentation and innovation. This will quickly replace the old way of neglect, inaction, sub-standard effort. Provide your people with the training and tools to build their confidence and give them a sense of personal responsibility.
- “Reward your best performers, and get rid of non-performers”: There is always room for everyone as long as performance counts. Just never take the easy way out, do the hard work of leading.
- “Encourage creative disruption”: Random acts of hostility are not what motivates an organization, but if no one is angry you may not be pushing hard enough.
“Being responsible sometimes means making people angry”
General Colin Powell
There are two books that I recommend to everyone that is interested in understanding the principles of leadership. Both of these books are a part or our Leadership Development seminars.
- The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell by Oren Harari
- The Powel Principles by Oren Harari
Please talk with your peers and see if they would benefit from this series. If you think they may, please send them to the web-site www.mbcincorp.com they may download the free white paper and be automatically signed up to receive all future articles and quality tips.
Thanks to All
Bill Martin – President