Ep #129: Mean Leaders
Behavior is born out of emotions. So, whatever you feel drives your behavior – your actions in the world. And the only thing that we all can assess about one another is our actions. When a leader is cruel or mean, that’s someone who doesn’t know how to manage an ego, who doesn’t have self-awareness.
One of the cornerstones of effective leadership is self-awareness. So today we’re talking about leaders taking responsibility for their space and not holding other people accountable for their emotional health.
What you’ll find in this episode:
- All I experience from you are the words that come out of your mouth, the tone that’s in your voice, the things you do with your body.
- Why, if you’re in a position of authority, there’s no reason for you to use the negative emotion that translates into unmanaged behavior.
- How the thought model comes into play regarding self-awareness.
- Downton Abbey and not being a tool.
- Why leadership is harder than being powerful.
- How to tell when someone doesn’t have self-awareness on a regular basis.
Featured on the Show and Other Notes:
- How to CEO Week – a 5 day mini-course that I will be teaching. We’re going to focus on doing a team audit on how to really create a team that you love. If you want to get on the wait list, you can go to howtoceoweek.com and put your name and info in and we will email the info to you. It will be a short course with a nominal fee.
- Come connect with me on Instagram here or on Facebook here.
- Let me know what questions you have or what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org
- I’d be honored, if you find this podcast of value, if you would write a review. Then DM me on Instagram or Facebook or email me at email@example.com and let me know it was you. Then we’ll send you my favorite books list!
Subscribe by your favorite method and my podcast will come right to you!
Hey, I’m Kris Plachy, host of the Lead Your Team podcast. Running a million dollar business is not easy. And whether you’re just getting started with building your team or you’ve been at this for awhile, I’m going to bring you honest, specific, and clear practices you can use right now, today to improve how well you lead your team. Let’s go ahead and get started.
Hey, how are you? Welcome to the podcast and to a new week. I can’t believe we are launching officially into August. I’m actually recording this podcast the last week of July, and next week I’m excited I’m going to be going to the East Coast with my daughter. She’s very interested in attending college back there. I don’t talk about my kids all that much, but my daughter is a very exceptional soccer goalie and she wants to go play at a really good school and she’s going to be junior. So this is all beginning for us, this whole figuring this process out. So super excited. I’m from Massachusetts. I was born there. And so we’re excited to, I’m excited to go back east. She’s really excited. We’re going to go check out some schools in Boston, some schools in New Jersey, Rhode Island. So we’re going to have a fun East Coast jaunt. So I’m excited.
Anyway, so this week I have a few things I want to say. First of all, we’re going to do something fun. We’ve never done this before. Miriam and I have been trying to figure out what do we want to call this? We don’t really know. So we’re just calling it how to CEO week. And we’re going to focus on doing a team audit. A team audit is, it’s going to be a five day kind of minicourse with me on how to really create a team that you love and can be more successful over the course of five days. I’m going to give you some really powerful, I think, insights, very simple on how you can resolve some of the most common challenges that we hear our clients deal with like how do I know when to fire? How do I know if I’ve done enough? How to know when to hire, how to know is it them or is it me? How to know if my expectations are just too high.
So we’re going to teach you, I’m going to teach you this team audit. And like I said, it’ll be over the course of a week. If that’s something that you’re interested in and you want to get on the wait list, you can just go to howtoceoweek.com, howtoceoweek.com to remember what did we decide it was, but yeah. And just go there and put your name and info in and we will email it to you. It will be a short course with a nominal fee. So I just want you to know this isn’t free, but it won’t be very expensive either. It’s just a gives you a little skin in the game mama. Yeah. Okay.
And so today I want to talk to you about mean leaders. First of all, I watch a lot of my clients wrangle with thinking that they’re mean, that they’re bitchy, that they’re too aggressive, that they’re too direct. And all of that stems from this belief that they’re mean. And from my perspective, this is all very rooted in basic human behavior. Things we’ve told ourselves about being nice, being mean, being kind, being cruel. And I do think there’s a fine line. And I’m very clean about my perspective here.
Unfortunately, in the way that the world has gone, I think this has gotten very muddy with a lot of political opinion. And that makes this very hard for me because I think a lot of people think that my opinion is rooted in a political persuasion. It’s not. My opinion is rooted in a leadership belief.
And I think that leaders who are cruel and mean, people who are in positions of leadership who are cruel and mean, which I believe we have observed whole handedly, readily, a triple down effect of that behavior at a leadership level across the board in our political arena. I don’t necessarily think that’s true in companies. And I think that if a lot of CEOs behaved in the way that politicians did, the board would exit them immediately. So I just want to make sure I’m saying that because I don’t have any interest in this podcast of having a political debate. I just want to talk about behavior, leadership behavior.
And here’s what we know. Behavior comes, behavior, right? Comes from, is born out of your emotion. So whatever it is that you feel drives your behavior, your action in the world. And the only thing that we all can assess about one another is your actions. I don’t know how you feel, I don’t know what you think. All I experience from you are the words that come out of your mouth, the tone that’s in your voice, the things you do with your body. That’s all I know. Your thoughts and your feelings are kind of irrelevant to me. That’s your job, not mine, okay? My job is to assess you and decide is this behavior I want anything to do with? Okay?
And this is why this really gets to some of the root of why I do what I do. We were talking about this yesterday that my original coaching team when I started my work in this, our sort of behind the closed doors mantra was to create a schmuck-free work environment. To build a place, to foster a place where people who were mean, cruel, defensive, rude, because they didn’t know how to manage themselves had more self-awareness.
So in my mind, when I watch a leader be cruel or mean, what I see is someone who doesn’t know how to manage an ego, who doesn’t have self-awareness. And so what they do is they don’t pay attention to their feelings that are happening inside of them. What they do instead is they behave in a way that tries to change other people so they can feel better, right?
So the simplest example is someone on my team does something I don’t like. I get angry. That anger if unmanaged by me means I yell, I insult, I chastise, I ignore, I berate, I fire. I’m not making conscious choice because taking action out of anger very, very sparingly is a useful action. It usually is a mess, right? And so when you watch that, you can tell that you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t check themselves.
There is no reason if you’re in a position of authority already, by title, by position, by role, if you’re listening to this and you’re a female founder, you already have all the authority you need. You own the fricking company. You don’t have to use the negative emotion that translates into unmanaged behavior. You don’t have to do that to get your way. You’re already in charge.
And the problem is when you allow that negative emotion of anger, frustration, resentment, burden, impatience, when you allow that emotion to dictate your behavior, the only person at the end of the day that you’re truly going to have an impact on long-term is you. Because I am very confident in the way that the world has turned in the last 18 months, people are not going to tolerate working for someone who’s a tool. They don’t have to. So if you find that you are initiating behaviors when you feel icky, that’s very, very official terminology, that is what we need to work on. And that’s where mean leaders, right? That’s what I’m talking about. Like you don’t have to be that way.
So to me, one of the cornerstones of effective leadership is self-awareness. And in order to truly do that, you have to understand the thought model, which is a huge part of what we work on and work with in our modeling with our clients, even though we also do a tremendous amount of tactical work and consulting work. It all stems from initially like what are you making all this mean? Leaders who can do that kind of reflection build better teams, they build more sustainable results, they build better cultures and they model how they want all the rest of the team to work together.
When leaders are cruel and mean and don’t manage themselves, guess who they surround themselves with? More emotionally immature people. And in my mind, at this point in our development, in our evolution as a species, that is unacceptable. I don’t care who you are. Cruelty, insults, that’s not leadership. That’s childish and it’s more centered around power and not being a leader.
And I think we’ve got to start to demand more of the people we follow and also who we are because that doesn’t get us anywhere. And leaders who continue to be indulged despite not managing their emotions, despite the cruelty and the ugliness they put in the world, that only perpetuates the amount of time we all have to deal with this. And I think it’s gross. And so as I sit and I… I deal with beautiful clients. I don’t have mean clients. I have some clients who haven’t learned yet that connection between managing how do I fix this emotional pain that I’m in, this angst I feel every day, and then it translates into some of my behaviors with my team. We can all learn that, but the women who hire me are willing. And that’s hard work you guys.
And I’ll tell you, this is on my mind because this week, I became mean. Not to my team, but in general. I was mean. And the reason I was mean, I was feeling so much painful emotion that I just wanted it to be someone else’s fault. And I lashed out. And I think we can all know that we do that. That’s just human behavior. And it was interesting because I pulled a goddess card for another video that I made, and it was all about how you have to be responsible for the energy you put in the world and recognize that everything you see in others is simply just a reflection of what you see in yourself.
And as we are evolving as a species and we’re really going through such an evolution, everyone, I think we all owe it to ourselves and to one another and to those people who raise their hand and say, “Yes, I’ll follow you.” I think we owe it to all of that to learn how to step back and lead with intention, with grace, with love. I can be firm with you, I can hold you accountable. I can have that difficult conversation. I can make my point without being a tool. And in fact, I can probably do it better. One of the things I love about the show Downton Abbey for those of you who… Hopefully a lot of you have watched it. It’s such a good show. But one of the reasons I love that show is the wit. It’s the way that people used to talk to each other. It was so clever. That old English language, man, it was clever and smart and it made people think, right? It wasn’t just cruel, ugly quips, silent treatment, ugliness.
So what’s my point? My point is this, leaders in my opinion, which of course you’re on my podcast. So that’s what you’re going to get. Leaders, real leaders, not just people who are powerful. And there’s a difference because power uses a whole other set of skills. Leaders can achieve power and authority and followership, but a true leader does that through self-management, self-awareness, and checking not using other people to balance out their emotional health. A real leader recognizes that their emotional health is their responsibility. It’s not dependent on everybody else. Someone who has not mastered leadership doesn’t have self-awareness. They allow their emotion to trigger their action in a way that isn’t conscious, that is cruel and mean. And I really do stand behind that. I know some people won’t agree with me. That’s okay. You don’t have to. But I know which one I would prefer to work for. How about you?
I think that leadership is harder than being powerful. I think that leadership is feminine and leverages much more feminine assets. Power leverages a lot of the typical traditional masculine assets. And the world is ready for more feminine types of leadership because the old ones that we’ve been using for thousands of years, they’re not working. All they’re doing is tearing us apart.
So how about we make a decision as people who lead teams that we’ll just take responsibility for our little space and we won’t hold people accountable for our emotional health and we won’t hold people accountable? It’s interesting, right? We simultaneously blame people for how we feel, but then we wait for them to fix how we feel. That doesn’t make any sense. You made me feel this way, but now I need you to change so I could feel better. It’s like dumb. How about we just decide, actually I’m in charge of my emotional health and I’m going to choose how I want to show up in the world. That’s my job.
And as a leader, I have a lot of other business to attend to than just be waiting for my team to change so I can feel good about myself. That’s your job. And if you need help with that, you hire a coach because we can help you with that. But that is the finite difference and it’s very easy to tell when someone doesn’t have self-awareness on a regular basis. And that’s because of the way that they play a victim to other people’s behaviors and then they ultimately become the bully and victimize others with their behavior. So a little pontification for the day.
I’m always curious what you guys think. You can always email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. My team forwards me all of the things you guys share. So please do that. Love to know. And if you want to join us for the team audit, go to howtoceoweek.com. Thanks for tuning in today. Have a wonderful, wonderful day.
One more thing before you go. In a world of digital courses and online content, I like to work with my clients live because I know that when you have someone you can work with, ask questions of, and meet with, you’re so much more likely to get the success that you want. So head on over to howtoceolive.com to learn more about our very exciting, very exclusive program just for female entrepreneurs. We’ll see you there.