How to Handle 3 Leadership Wolves
Little Red Riding Hood knew that something was wrong with Grandma.
“Grandmother, what big arms you have!”
“All the better to hug you with, my dear.”
“Grandmother, what big legs you have!”
“All the better to run with, my child.”
“Grandmother, what big ears you have!”
“All the better to hear with, my child.”
In the Charles Perrault version, Little Red Robin Hood didn’t escape. Instead, the wolf caught her and “ate her up.”
Leaders must be realistic about human behavior, and in these economic times wolfish behavior is on the rise. There are people who have learned to prey on others in the business world.
These “wolves” show up in a variety of forms. You may even half a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Here are a few examples:
- Smooth Operators: These leaders might be smooth like the wolf and have a clever answer for everything. The problem is that they don’t always have the actions to back up their stories. If you have a Smooth Operator, always ask for facts and look for actions that back up their stories.
- The Friendlies: These leaders try to build a power base with their manager by ingratiating themselves through gifts. They also will share personal information to form an unfair bond to gain an advantage. Don’t accept gifts that cross the professional line. In fact, make it a rule not to accept or give personal gifts except during the holidays. Keep the relationship work-focused.
- The Bullies: These leaders wait until they know another leader is weak and then pounce. They are the most predatory of all types because they are the most afraid. Their tactics will include creating and sharing stories that undermine and potentially weaken the reputation of another leader. Bullies only understand control. If you have a bully, help the leader being bullied stage a confrontation about the stories being shared. Bullies are weakened when transparency is a part of your team meetings. Their stories will “wilt” when the truth is revealed.
Corporate America is filled with great people who have honest intent. But there are some wolves that have been created by fear. Make sure they don’t fool you.