The age of the tyrannical leader is coming to an end.
I currently have several clients who are struggling with tyrannical leaders. These leaders micro-manage, express rage when things go wrong, and use blame and shame for motivation.
A tyrant has an unhealthy relationship to power and control. In these current times, employee engagement is critical, yet I frequently hear stories of abuse of power with command-and-control leadership styles that destroy morale and undermine culture in teams and in the organizations. A new form of leadership is being called for that creates trust, which leads to creativity and innovation. The old style of leadership where rank automatically makes someone a leader and the belief that command-and-control drives productivity is outdated.
The time for tyrants to change their ways has come.
A new form of leadership is being called for that creates trust, which leads to creativity and innovation.
I am not writing this with a sweeping solution or 5 tips that will turn the turn your leader from a tyrant to a trusted supportive ally. However, in my experience, a helpful place to start is attempting to understand what is going on in the mind of a leader who micro-manages, yells, or blames and shames to produce results. I am not excusing inappropriate or bullying behavior, but understanding what is going on in their reality can create some distance between their behavior and your experience.
The basis of tyrannical leadership can be found in two things:
Insecurity & Anxious Thoughts
In an effort to deal with anxious thinking, insecure managers attempt to control outcomes in ways that are unhealthy and create disengagement. Insecure and fearful thinking may be about the self, others or the world. They hold a fear of being incapable or worry they will be unable to produce results. This causes an unwillingness to trust team members and an attempt to control all items on the agenda, big and small. They are afraid of circumstances confirming their worst fears about themselves: not being good enough and the world being a landmine of bad experiences. They are unwilling to trust others, because that feeds uncertainty. They easily go into blaming others, as they believe that the outside world or circumstance is the cause of any negative feelings they are experiencing.
When this type of leader is in my office, I have the benefit of seeing them in their true nature. When they are calm and contemplating their lives, they are kinder, softer, and wanting the same things in life as us all: peace of mind and contentment. We spend most of our coaching time together getting them to realize the power of anxious thinking on their feelings, actions, and results. We strive for clarity in realizing that the outside world is never the cause of our feelings. We are only experiencing our own thinking about the outside world, 100% of the time. This can be radical information for them at first, but the truth of it cannot be disproven. When a leader realizes the nature of how their mind works, they begin to withdraw blame and are less likely to use shame when things don’t go as planned.
I am telling you this to give you some clarity if you are mired in the swirling storm of a tyrannical leader. It can be very challenging to hold on to your own peace of mind in that circumstance. It becomes very easy to get caught up in your own fears or your own anxious thinking that gets stirred up when you are around them. It is helpful for you to remember the same thing. Your leader is an external circumstance and your thinking about that leader creates your feelings. The leader is not creating your feelings.
Understanding leads to curiosity, curiosity leads to respect and respect leads to trust.
This post is simply to point in a direction of understanding, not intended to excuse poor behavior by a leader. You still hold them accountable for their behavior in ways that don’t sabotage your career. (This is a future post, I think.) When you approach someone with a bit of understanding of how their mind is working, it is more likely than any other tactic to have a better or positive outcome. Understanding leads to curiosity, curiosity leads to respect and respect leads to trust.
I am deeply committed to waking people up to healthy, balanced and joyful leadership. The age of the tyrannical leader is coming to an end. Your understanding can be the catalyst to your peace of mind and the foundation for change in your experience of an intense leader.
Ready to transform your life?