Is Chaotic Leadership really “a thing”?

The headlines are full of judgments against our current Commander-in-Chief as running a chaotic administration, leading by instinct, and other unflattering terms to describe his management style. Mr. Trump’s response is that, aside from everything being “fine”, he likes being unpredictable, thinks conflict is good, and that he “gets a lot of things done”.

But the White House is not the only workplace where chaos reigns supreme. Leaders from every sector of the economy, from corporations to small churches, fall prey to this management style that, no matter who you are, has similar results.

Creative, innovative, bold, and fast-paced are all adjectives that can be applied to the best leaders around. But if these qualities are not tempered by a clear vision, long-term strategy, alignment within the organization and strong, cohesive leadership teams, there’s a pretty good chance that the resulting style can be best described as chaotic.

Here are eight qualities and outcomes of chaotic leadership: 

Chaotic leaders tend to have poor insight and judgment about their communication and management styles and the impact it has on their staff. No one plans to lead by chaos or even wants to. But these leaders see themselves completely differently than how other see them. They tend to be blind to the impact of how they manage and solve problems. What they may think of as a creative and exhilarating work environment may be experienced by staff as unsettling and disconcerting. At its worst, it can be complete pandemonium. Continue reading

Facing off with your Passive-Aggressive Managers

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You might be a C-Suite level boss with many managers below you. Many in your management pool may carry over their personal dysfunctions into their work life. Truly, “Who you are is how you lead”.

Not sure if the employee is passive aggressive or just passive? Passive Aggression is an indirect way to express hostility. You could compare it to a stab in the back vs. a slap on the face. It can be confusing, at first, to identify what’s going on because it can be so subtle. Some common identifiers of passive aggression:

  1. Not showing up at meetings, being habitually late, or leaving early when others are pressing in
  2. Calling in sick at key times
  3. Making lots of excuses and blame-casting for poor behavior
  4. Withholding information from other team members
  5. Making inappropriate remarks and then passing it off as a joke
  6. Sarcasm
  7. Dragging out simple processes from approving forms or dispensing reimbursements to approving transfers and promotions
  8. Feigning ignorance about the impact of their behavior on their colleagues and subordinates

These employees and managers can be your in-house saboteurs. This behavior sets a negative tone at work, builds walls between departments and politicizes the environment. It also amplifies other employees’ negative feelings, thus becoming a  contagion of discontent. We become complicit when we allow such behavior to go unaddressed. Continue reading

Dear Toxic Boss: I’m talking to YOU

toxic-leadership-2_All of us have seen them. Some of us have worked for them. Some of us have been them. You know ” them” : the screamer; the humiliator; the total dominator; the letch (male or female); the misogynist; the man-hater; the racist; the narcissist; the incompetent; the ostracizer; the blamer…need I go on?

You’re probably reading this because some intimidated employee sent it to you anonymously, or left it on their computer monitor so you could see it when you peeked into their cubical. No one gave you this article in person because they’ve been led to believe that telling the Emperor s/he was naked would cost them their job.

You micromanage and ask employees to report back on minutiae (which I doubt you read) to cover for the fact that they may know their jobs better than you do. You abuse the performance evaluation process and, rather than use it as a development tool, make it your version of having a student report to the principal’s office. The overuse of symbols of privilege like private washrooms, parking spaces and personal assistants just makes your staff view you as a  paper tiger. Continue reading