Are They Talking About You?

Perhaps you’ve heard it said, “We join an organization, but we leave a manager.” If you’ve had one of those kinds of managers, you know exactly what it means. For all the research and knowledge we have accumulated on Emotional Intelligence over the last twenty years, there are still a lot of managers who are sucking the life out of their team, day after day and week after week.

Sadly, it often seems that a person like that seems to be absolutely clueless about it. As one friend of mine has said, “Each manager ought to ask himself, ‘Are they talking about me?’” Leaders who fail, usually fail to see themselves as they really are. Almost every week, I receive an email, get a phone call, or hear a story about a leader whose behavior and attitude is seriously hurting the team, but the leader seems unaware.

There are four frustrations that I hear from people about their managers that seem to come up over and over. As you read these, ask yourself, “Could they be talking about me?”

  1. Hard jobs put them in a bad mood – Let’s face it: it’s called work for a reason. There are hard things about every person’s job. The people around you get that, but they don’t get why that gives you a right to be in a perpetual bad mood.
  2. They major in misplaced anger – Not only is it taxing for you to be in a bad mood most of the time, it seems unfair that you take your anger out on the people around you. They are just trying to work, too, and your anger makes it harder for them.
  3. They tell the same old (bad) stories – Everyone loves a story, especially the ones that have a proper ending. You know, something akin to “…and they all lived happily ever after.” I know not every story really ends that way, but there’s something about embittered people that causes them to magnify the bad memories, and those become the only stories to which they assign any importance. They can remember everything about that story, except that you’ve already heard it a million times. (Is this you? Do everyone a favor and dust off those old copies of Reader’s Digest and learn to tell some happy tales.)
  4. They expect to be trusted, but rarely give it to others – I often hear people say, “You have to earn trust.” I know there’s an element of truth to that. However, I’ve noticed that great leaders give trust, and paradoxically their followers turn out to be trustworthy. And who doesn’t trust a trustworthy person?

Mike Mowery

Written by:
Mike Mowery
Director of Leadership Development, Strategic Government Resources

2 responses

  1. As leaders we must do lots of self reflection, one of the traits of having a high level of emotional intelligence, and practice self regulation. For those leaders that are insecure, looking in the mirror is difficult. They know they will not like who they see. If they want to grow and be a catylyst for positive change and not an obstacle to their team’s growth, they will have to do so. I’d like to read other’s comments on this and what they think about this. I’m glad you brought it up, Mike.

    1. Thanks, Andy. And you’re right. A truly reflection of self is very hard to look at.

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