Are leaders born or made? That debate will never be resolved. But one thing is certain: many of the skills that make up good leadership have to be learned along the way.
Leaders are human, and here’s the surprising truth: sometimes they simply get it wrong. And when that happens, it’s our obligation to help and guide them, whether they’re a peer or someone in leadership above us. Because, after all, leadership is a two-way street.
Here are some ways you can help a leader who’s going in the wrong direction:
When your leader exudes negativity, set the example by leading with positivity. Be the example the leader needs to see. Negativity limits any leader’s effectiveness. A huge part of your leadership is the energy you exude—it affects your team and your entire organization. It may be hard when you’re bombarded with negativity from your leader, but keeping your own attitude positive will help show them—and your co-workers—the way.
When your leader becomes fatalistic, remind them that a mistake isn’t the final word. When times get tough, remind your leader of Winston Churchill’s words, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Even our leaders need our encouragement from time to time. The right message at the right moment may be the thing to jolt your leader back into the mindset they need to have.
When your leader exhibits disrespect, show them what respect looks like. Disrespect should never be tolerated. But it finds a way to creep in, even in the best organization. When that happens, it’s important to do everything you can to stop it in its tracks. Whatever is accepted today—especially in someone in leadership—becomes the norm tomorrow. When a leader exhibits disrespect, give feedback on the consequences—in a respectful way. Ultimately you can’t force a leader to respect you, but you can refuse to tolerate their disrespect, and you can make sure your own behavior is impeccable.
When your leader doesn’t take responsibility, remind them that they’re accountable. When an overburdened leader shrugs off responsibility, it often results in a ripple effect throughout the company. Support your leader in the understanding that power carries responsibility not only for what we do but also for what we don’t do.
You may be thinking, I can’t say any of these things to my leader. It’s a task that calls for a degree of courage and tact. But unless your leader is genuinely awful—and that’s rare—they’re human, just like you. And just like you they sometimes need reminders and encouragement. Those who recognize this fact and show the leadership to act on it invariably stand out from the crowd.
Lead from within: It may be surprising to see your leader stumble, but the biggest surprise will come when you take ownership of your own leadership.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.