Leslie Ungar, The Inner Brilliance of Electric Impulse, Inc.

Sweat the Right Small Stuff

Leslie’s Articles

7 Achilles Heels of Today’s Leaders

Google is my BFF, my Best Friend Forever. I Google everything from updates on weather, sports, and movie trivia. Recently, I found out that Google and I have something else in common.

I have come up with the 7 Achilles heels of today’s leaders. Google commissioned Project Oxygen to interview 10,000 employees to identify qualities of today’s leaders. WE BOTH BUILD BETTER BOSSES.

Dag Hammerskjold, former Secretary-General of the United Nations said, “The longest journey is the journey inwards”.

Let’s go on a journey inwards. Everyone is a boss: of a company, team, or of themselves. As we look at the 7 Achilles heels you will see that sometimes the small stuff does need to be sweated. Just make sure it is the right small stuff.

1. The Need to be the Sole Point Person
The executive who needs to be the sole point person is hard on an organization and hard on the individuals. In today’s world, young Gen X and Gen Y won’t wait out a micro-manager boss. The efforts of an organization need to be directed outward. When the leader needs to be the sole person, the energy of the organization is spent inward rather than outward.

Sometimes the executive needs to be the sole point person out of lack of self-esteem. The more they are the sole point person the more value they think they have to the organization.

2. Public Flogging/Private Apology
Playgrounds are not the only place in America where bullying still takes place. Most executives would deny public flogging in today’s world. In other words they would deny belittling or criticizing others in any public venue.

If you have to ask if it is belittling, then it is belittling to the other person. This is an area that there is no room for error. If you have to ask if you are guilty, you are guilty. Your audience decides not you- it is a rule of communication.

If 99.9% was an acceptable standard it would mean:

  • 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily
  • Two planes landing at Chicago’s O’Hare airport will be unsafe every day
  • 291 pacemaker operations will be performed incorrectly

You too can’t afford to be correct on this issue 99.9 % of the time.

3. Demonstrate Inconsistent Leadership
People want to follow a leader who is balanced.
The sky is falling mentality may be your Achilles heel if you don’t know it. Operating under a 24/7 crises mode takes a toll on an organization and its people.

The effective leader is the consistent voice through negative or positive quarters, through cancelled airline flights as well as cancelled contracts.

It is incumbent upon leaders to use communication in a consistent way to move their company’s agenda boldly forward.

4. Stop Envisioning a Newer Future
We have all heard, what got you here won’t get you there. You can’t leave out the essentials when you pack your executive suitcase. Remember to pack vision.

After his tenure as Prime Minister, Tony Blair commented on life in that position, “It’s hard to find the time and energy for strategic thought.”

Coach Byron Scott took over as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers with no LeBron. As he watches practice before NBA games, he wonders over to select opponents and tells them about his vision in Cleveland and how they would fit into that vision. He does not leave the vision and the elements of it to the president or general manager.

5. Don’t Engage All Team Members on Frequent Basis
This is not as obvious as it seems. Executives need to engage above and below their position on the organizational chart. Dated leadership concerns itself with only those above themselves on the chart. You need to engage and get input from all levels. You can no longer know how to do everything. You need to hear from all levels. People need to know that can speak without recrimination.

6. The Rules of Communication Still Apply to You
Oprah was asked about what seemed like an extravagance at her girl’s school in South Africa. Why did the school need this cutting edge auditorium with cutting edge technology?

Oprah simply answered, “My girls are going to be leaders. And leaders need to speak.

Unspoken yet assumed in her answer was that the journey inward requires the ability to communicate outward. To speak in ways that empower individuals, get you out of your own way, and move a company forward.

7. Have No Honest Mirror
Who can be honest with you? Someone on your payroll? Who would you put in that position when they depend on a paycheck signed by you?

What if your honest mirror gives you a wrong reflection? No reflection may be worse than a wrong reflection. What do others see and hear?

You had honest mirrors along your journey to the top. Do you have one now?

Fifty years ago Detroit had the highest income per capita in the country. Boston had one of the lowest. Fifty years later the two cities changed positions. Perhaps executives in Boston had a vision and avoided the 7 Achilles heels of leadership.