Leaders' Blind SpotsBy Joan Lloyd
The Protectionist can only see her team through rose-colored glasses. She hired them, she's groomed them, she sees them as talented... an extension of her own ability to create a great team. Like a mama bear with her cubs, no one had better get too close.
An example emerged during a recent RIF (reduction in force). All the managers were struggling to make the tough decisions about whom to lay off, in order to meet the mandate set by senior management. Five percent had to go. But when it came to Amanda's team, she adamantly refused to budge. Her team was full of superstars, she contended, and no one was to be cut.
Amanda also showed her protectionist blind spot during project reviews. Mistakes were never the fault of her team, and she was quick to point out the failings of other teams. Her own team basked in her perception of them, and, as a result, didn't collaborate well with other departments.
Some ways to modify this behavior (besides honest feedback and coaching) is to move The Protectionist to lead other teams every few years or give her responsibility for a cross-functional team, so she is forced to get a broader view.
The complaints from employees who work with a controller are always the same. "He makes us run everything past him. We have to rework our communications and presentations so many times, they're reduced to a meaningless shadow of what they were intended to be. Then, just when we think we are ready to move forward on something, he calls it back because he has some other concern. We can't stand it... and people are leaving."
The Controller is usually overly concerned about his or her political standing in an organization, and worries about how decisions will reflect upon him. Often an analytical thinker, The Controller can't seem to get enough data to make decisions and will obsess beyond the prudent time to act.
A coaching manager will be clear about the need for empowerment and put mandates in place for the Controller to let go and delegate both responsibility and authority.
If you aren't in his group of pals, you're likely to get less time and attention...and possibly less career opportunity. This can be a big problem when you see your peers going to ball games with the boss but you're not invited. The Loyalist believes either you are with him or against him. Like Knights of the Roundtable, they pledge their allegiance. In exchange, the Loyalist gives them protection and shares the currency of the organization - information and opportunity.
A wise manager will direct the Loyalist to expand his or her circle at work, and strongly suggest the same for social outings. The manager will also push the Loyalist's employees to lead projects on their own and across the organization, which will force them to have some accountability to other leaders.
One-on-one meetings will be this leader's style, if she meets with her employees at all. She eschews meetings because they make her uncomfortable. You are likely to find her hunched over her computer screen, maybe even with her door closed. She's the master at data crunching, knows her department's outputs to the tenth of a percent, but couldn't tell you the name of her administrative assistant's kids.
The Introvert tends to think more than she talks out loud. The problem is that she often thinks she's told you something, but in reality, she only had the conversation in her own head. She tends to overlook the importance of communicating the big picture messages, such as "Where are we headed?" "How are we doing?" "What are our priorities?" As a result, employees line up outside her door, and projects can get bottlenecked.
The Introvert is wise to partner with a natural communicator - on her own team, HR, or an outside coach - to get assistance with the important messages, facilitation of planning sessions and a weekly meeting structure that gets the job done.
He's often the favorite of top management. He knows how to work a room and how to spin a presentation. Usually gifted with interpersonal skills, the player knows who's who in the organization and makes sure he knows the right people. He sometimes rides his team like an army mule, demanding results and riding rough shod over egos and personal schedules. But when it comes to sharing credit for those results, he's front and center accepting the awards.
Exit interviews and 360 feedback tools are perfect to expose this behavior and modify it. The Player's manager is wise to have one-on-one contact with the Player's staff and insist that the Player invite his or her staff to make key presentations.