Your Boss Is A Psychopath

 

Maybe, according to this article in Entrepreneur.  Check out this statistic:

…experts say there’s almost one psychopath for every 100 people, with rates shooting up in the workplace, especially in leadership, thanks to psychopaths’ ease with manipulation. Research finds that nearly 4 percent of corporate CEOs are psychopaths, and this rate is nearly doubled among middle managers. (Shockingly, the share of psychopaths among middle managers is nearly as high as the share of psychopaths in medium security prisons.)

I have worked for many bosses with whom I would question their psychopathic tendencies.  I suppose that term deserves definition from within the article.

A psychopath stands out, Woodward says, thanks to a “blend of interpersonal, lifestyle and behavioral deficits” that they can mask, at least for a period of time. Woodward explains, “They come across as very charming and very gregarious. But beneath that veneer lies a lack of remorse, an amorality and a real callousness.”

Perhaps more of you are with me now!  There is a commonality here that we often uncover using our assessments.  Two things often stick out to people – the high D (Dominance) style and a low empathetic ability.

Dominance is from the DISC and is described in these terms:

Results-oriented, argumentative, likes to win, may try to overpower you, wants to move quickly, may be unprepared, direct

You can see where I am going with this topic.  Everyone has encountered a strong D personality.  I am willing to bet that most people have encountered them in a leadership role…as their boss.  This isn’t a bad thing.  High D’s have a natural ability to tackle big topics and to get things done.  These abilities often drive them into leadership roles where they are able to succeed (often in a domineering way).

The issue develops when you have a High D leader with low empathetic ability.  Imagine the brash, hard-charging High D leader who seems devoid of sensitivity.  Now we have the makings of a psychopath!

Ok, maybe not.  Instead, it may be that we simply have a unique behavioral style that tends to have an acerbic quality to someone with a different style.  This topic, communicating between different styles, is where I spend a good portion of my days.  In most instances, the simple recognition of a differing style leads people to better communication.

And I would hope a lower rate of psychopath diagnoses in the workplace.

Contact us today if you would like to learn more about our assessment services.

Leadership Jargon

Oh does this Sales & Marketing Management article hit me where I live.  The gist of the article is the corporate speak many leaders use in hopes of sounding…smarter?  I really don’t know why they do it.  I have encountered this approach when working with leaders and their teams.  Assessing teams provides insight into how the team interacts and how the leader interacts with the team.  There are many leaders out there who seem preoccupied with the latest buzzwords and corporate speak.

A waste of time in my opinion.  Apparently the author shares this view:

“My leadership philosophy is to optimally leverage the passions of my people such that at the end of the day we maximize employee engagement to get them to think outside the box and synergistically drive value-added activities in a profit-maximizing way that is a win-win for our people, our shareholders and our customers.”

“It sounds great,” says leadership trainer Mike Figliuolo. “It is polysyllabic. It uses words with long definitions. I have only one question: what the hell does it mean?”

Amen.  I have no idea what that means either and I have heard that type of mush in many interviews.  I prefer this anecdote from the end of the article:

The boss went first, emphasizing the importance of teamwork, trust and having fun. Other participants took their turns and suddenly buzzwords were being tossed out like parade candy. One team member was uncomfortable with the emptiness of what was being said, however, so when it was his turn to speak he said simply, “My leadership philosophy is simple. Say what you mean. Do what you say.” He then turned and took his seat.

Of Authenticity

I have encountered this issue of authenticity recently in a handful of situations and it has captured my attention.  Here’s why – Gen Y is all about authenticity.  As a Gen Xer, I would argue that it is high on our list also.  Yet, some Baby Boomers have a different approach to authenticity and it stems from one key approach – they believe they have to have the answer to every question.

Now I’m not talking about aerospace-grade questions, but questions regarding their field of expertise.  Recently I witnessed 3 different situations where different Baby Boomer-aged experts encountered a difficult question.  The question was clearly beyond what they knew yet all of them attempted to answer it as an expert.  Unfortunately for them, the people asking the questions did not seem to believe the Baby Boomer answers.  I didn’t believe them either.

The after effect of the interactions was simple – I no longer trusted their expertise.  The irony of it is in the fact that some of the questions were not even in their area of expertise.  The Baby Boomers did not have to provide an answer as they could have easily deferred the question.  Instead in each situation they attempted to spout some rather odd sounding answer that came across as just that…odd.

One of the most powerful communication tools is to simply state, “I don’t know.”  If that is too direct you can use, “I’m not sure.”  In a strange way, I find it edifying of the person’s expertise – they answer questions that they know and they legitimately answer with an I don’t know if it is outside of their knowledge base.

It is disarming, real and authentic.

Disappearing Telecommuters

Saleshq.com offers up tricks for telecommuters in this article.  There are some solid points like this:

5. Communication

It’s very easy to forget the outside world when you work from home. While you do get to avoid the intricacies of corporate politics, it also means that you have to be your own advocate.

Make sure there are multiple ways for your boss and colleagues to contact you. Check your email frequently, and respond as immediately as you can. Keep your phone at hand, and make sure you call if there’s an office meeting. An instant messaging service works well for open communication if something changes last minute. For more long distance projects, make use of free video conferencing tools like Skype.

This fact is mission-critical.  One of my customers has a remote salesperson who works in the same small town as the office, but she telecommutes.  I’m not sure why, but that is a topic for another post.  Anyway, one of the things she has expertly established is her lack of availability during the work day.  What I mean is that the office can never get her on the phone during the day.  Cell phone, home phone…it doesn’t matter, their calls always end up in voicemail.

I find this fact appalling, but my customer tolerates it.  What I believe this does is free her up to do other activities during goal time for selling.  The office has now become accustomed to not reaching her on the phone so they think nothing of it.

If you manage telecommuters, you must have a communication channel (cell, text, IM, etc.) that always allows access to them.

The Open Door Ruse

Sometimes the best advice is simply stated which is true of this Inc.com post titled The Fallacy of an Open-Door Policy.  This topic catches my attention in that some of the worst managers I worked for claimed profusely that they had an open-door policy.  They stated it, but we sales reps all knew it was a ruse.

I think the author strikes a perfect chord with this:

You need to create an environment where people can speak up in any venue. I’ve had some of my most important communications with employees driving in the car, standing in the lunchroom, or walking through the shop floor.

How true…and difficult to put in practice for some managers.

Why Communication Matters

I’m presently working on some leadership projects with our customers so these topics are probably on my mind more than usual.  ManageSmarter.com presents an article Communication for Managers 101 that provides 5 steps for better communication between managers and employees.

Some of the suggestions are rudimentary, but we encounter many managers who simply do not follow these basic tenets.  The reason why good communication is important, in case you had to ask (emphasis mine):

Harvard Business Publications recently confirmed what many have always known: effective communication is the number one skill for executives to develop.

A Gallup poll of more than 1 million U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is because of problems with their immediate supervisor. Also, surveys show that over 80% of work-related problems are due to a breakdown in communication (Felber 2002).

It doesn’t get any more straight-forward than that.  The suggestion I appreciated the most:

2. Offer your employees time to prepare. It is only fair that you allow your employees some time to prepare for the meeting too by giving them a heads-up on what the meeting will be about. Communication is a two-way process. When an employee isn’t given time to prepare, they are left hearing your thoughts and unable to provide sufficient input that might be necessary. When you call a meeting without giving them time to collect their thoughts on the subject, you are setting yourself up for 2 big problems:

• You are being unfair to the employee, which will affect their workplace satisfaction and morale. After all, no one likes to be blind-sighted by their boss.
• You are causing productivity problems. You will not be getting all the input you may require.

Did anyone else think the proper phrase was “blindsided” instead of “blind-sighted?”  The things you learn here at the Hire Sense.