Let’s first get one thing out of the way: there is no such thing as a self-centered leader. Leadership is made up of an amalgamation of beliefs and related behaviors geared towards supporting individuals and groups. The intentions that underlie leadership are outwardly focused and rooted in the need to help others. For the sake of accuracy, there are self-centered managers, but no leaders.
So, what then is this blog post about? It’s how to recognize managers who believe they are leaders, but their beliefs and behaviors are self-serving. My intention is not to share this information so you can mock or ridicule those who fall into this group. It is to spark a conversation on what to do to help managers with this destructive belief.
Signs of Delusion
1. Erratic and inconsistent behaviors on important organizational topics that are high-profile or important at the moment
2. Decisions are made by the delusional manager to increase his visibility within the organization or with the Board
3. Wildly different behaviors surface when with other leaders compared to a one-on-one or in small group settings
4. Politicking to advance the supposed leader’s projects but cloaked in language to support the good of the organization
5. The delusional manager is incapable of seeing the impact of his or her ideas on the organization, the employees, and the customer
6. Rhetoric and big promises are commonly shared with senior executives AND are accepted
7. Other managers avoid saying anything about the delusional manager
8. When it comes to the delusional manager’s work area, staff are confused about what’s going on
9. Employee satisfaction in the delusional manager’s area is low
10. The CEO is unaware of the impact the delusional manager is having on teams, groups, and individuals
11. Deadlines are missed and quality of work is often poor
12. Staff don’t speak up about the delusional manager’s excuses for missed deadlines, effect on the work environment, or poor work quality
This is by no means a complete list. The delusions get darker and more ugly. The destruction from such delusional beliefs and behaviors may not be known for years. By that time, market share may have eroded, technology complications worsen, products and services underperform, customer satisfaction plummets, and employee attrition skyrockets.
Leadership is made up of an amalgamation of beliefs and related behaviors geared towards supporting individuals and groups. The intentions that underlie leadership are outwardly focused and rooted in the need to help others. For the sake of accuracy, there are self-centered managers, but no leaders.
The signs above don’t occur singularly. Combinations of are usually prevalent. The only way to reverse the effects on people and the organization is to have a senior manager call the manager on his or her behavior and coach them to make changes in their beliefs and behaviors. I recommend a coach from outside the organization work with this type of manager.
It’s important to point out that managers who fall into this category are not “bad.” These managers can be talented and very knowledgeable. In many cases this is how they go undetected by senior managers and by some employees. If, however, an organization believes that its leaders need to inspire employees and are responsible to create an environment to enable employees to do their best work, self-centered leadership must be acknowledged as a fallacy and immediately addressed.
What would you add to the list? Or what action would you recommend to address this behavior? Share below.
Author: Shawn Murphy in Leadership, People & Change