Just as leaders tend to fall into different leadership styles – like command and control, visionary, democratic, and of course whimpy – there are behavior patterns that tend to persistently plague leaders. When present, these behavior patterns can be anything from annoyances that chip away at a leader’s effectiveness, or they can be truly destructive to a leader’s authority, trust and honor.
I have devoted the better part of my working life studying, training and coaching leaders and leadership. Much of what I learned and believe in I documented in my award-winning book, No-Compromise Leadership. The overriding theme of the book is quite simple; If it needs to be done – get it done. However, it’s this presence of the leadership plagues listed below that interfere, degrade or derail a leader’s ability to get things done. The plagues are pure compromise.
Although there are many, here are the six plagues of leadership and the no-compromise strategies to overcome them:
- Won’t look in the mirror: Leaders must master the ability to look in the mirror and own how their thinking and behavior is creating what they don’t like in their companies. Playing the blame game is destructive and does nothing but waste time, money, and create drama that degrades productivity. No-compromise leaders look in the mirror and own their contributions to the wrong outcomes.
- Master procrastinator: The no-compromise mantra IS NOT, “If it needs to be done – I’ll get to it later.” When I coach companies on new systems and initiatives, the most common response from employees is; “We’ve tried that before – we never finish what we start.” That’s compromise at the leadership level, not a problem with the system or initiative. The only cure for procrastination is to get stuff done. No-compromise leaders get stuff done.
- Talks a good game: Everyone talks about getting to the next level, but few back up that talk with authentic action. Authentic action is that potent blend of vision, sense of urgency, information flow, systems, teamwork, innovation and collective accountability. Leaders that talk a good game eventually are viewed by their employees as a salesman that never delivers the goods. Trust is compromised. Trust is a leader’s most precious asset. No-compromise leaders work hard to inspire and deliver the goods.
- Committed to compromise: My favorite Neilism is, “Do you do quarterly performance reviews at least once a year?” It always earns a chuckle, but the guilty know the brutal truth behind the question. In these economic times, every leader needs to be locked into their financials and be committed to following their cash-flow plan. Still, many leaders avoid the numbers. “I don’t like numbers” is a ‘committed to compromise’ excuse. And then there are leaders that push their team to win the game but never trust them with the score. Every company needs a scoreboard supported by an information flow system. No-compromise leaders are committed to achieving the right outcomes.
- Rules for everyone else: “Do as I say, not as I do” is pure compromise. Leaders that live by their own entitlement rules contaminate their company’s culture. Leaders set the tone for accountability and consistency in their cultures. If they fail to model the right thinking and behaviors they expect of others, the company is destined for mediocrity. No-compromise leaders adhere to the same rules they expect others to follow.
- Doesn’t know how to rock the boat: Change is about the controlled rocking of the boat. There are leaders that fear rocking the boat because it will upset people. But change always rocks the boat. It has to, because change means learning new skills and disciplines. Change means innovating new approaches to win the business game. If your company boat never rocks it is stagnant and unable to evolve in an everchanging world. And then there are leaders that allow stuff to pile up to the point where they rock the boat so violently they inflict even more damage. No-compromise leaders learn how to control the rocking of their boats. They gradually rock harder in times of big change and maintain a steady yet predictable rocking to keep everyone on their game. You must keep your boat rocking.