‘Strong personalities’

in management:

Six points on how to calculate the cost

People said to have a strong personality often have strong leadership skills in the following areas: drive, great decision-making skills, clear focus, detailed knowledge, action-focus, bigger-picture thinking, getting things done. However, behind that label of ‘strong personality’ often hides a deep sigh – from the person herself and from people who work with her.

As much as such a person gets things done, their Achille’s heal is often their people skills. They often intimidate others through their sheer confidence, no-nonsense approach, and energy. And no one dares to tell them. Only few feel free enough to have an honest, open conversation. It feels too vulnerable, too risky.

  1. People in the manager’s team and even peers go silent. Their contributions fall short of their available potential. You are paying for much more than you are getting.
  2. The leader is usually aware of this. It causes her a lot of frustration. Even if she tries to conceal her frustration, she is coming across as more intimidating. Team and manager spiral more deeply into that negative space which inhibits performance. This flows into all teams working with this manager’s teams. Again, you are getting much less productivity than you pay for – with more teams impacted than at first glance.
  3. The leader herself and the team are exhausted and unhappy. People get sick. Sick days, absenteeism, and late-coming increase.
  4. You might also have a lot of chatter on the corridors, on WhatsApp groups and other electronic platforms. This serves to compare notes, get colleagues’ support and voice opinions, at least unofficially.
  5. Turn-over in the leader’s team and among her peers increase.
  6. The more influence such a manager has, the further away your company moves from a positive high-performance culture. Generating such a trusting culture takes years of patient leadership work. During these years staff will not be delivering at the level they actually could.

Putting a number to lacking people skills is not so hard if you take heart and work through the points above. Even if you assume productivity shortfalls of only 10% you will find that the cost of doing nothing to support this strong personality is high.

The idea is not to blame the strong manager. She plays her role in the space she was given. But she needs support because she most probably knows that she works in a way that is not sustainable for her and the organisation. But it’s tough to admit to this. For her and for you.

Written by Claudia Brandt – 29 June 2021

Happily designed by Vanja Lakerveld – mybrandingcompany.com

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