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The Deviant Advantage:How to Lead Any One in Any Situation - Sample Chapter


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The Deviant Advantage:How to Lead Any One in Any Situation - Sample Chapter

  1. 1. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 40 How can I do a good job when what’s expected of me changes every five minutes? Chapter 4: The Enforcer
  2. 2. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 41 By the time I was leading teams, I had enough formal and informal training and coaching to spew out at a moment’s notice what I was ‘supposed’ to do to be a good leader. I needed self-awareness, I needed to listen for deeper meaning in people’s words, I needed to reward and motivate people in ways that were important to them rather than to me. I knew what to do. But in the day-to-day trenches, it just didn’t translate into what I actually did. Then one day, out of the blue, I realized that I was actually pretty crappy at leading anyone who didn’t have a personality and work style exactly the same as mine. That was a problem since I had a team of all different types of people coming to work in the morning and expecting me to lead them! The Enforcer How to Discover Your Leadership Advantage Chapter 4: The Enforcer
  3. 3. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 42 On that day, I was sitting at my custom-made desk in my nice corner office, decked out with all the trappings that were designed to shout, ‘Hey, look at me, I’m a good leader’, when I received an email from a supervisor who worked for me – a woman named Liz. I could see from the subject line that it was just a routine email about a project we were working on for our theme park business, and I opened it expecting a mundane update. I was busy and I wanted to get the email off my desk fast so I half-heartedly skimmed it to find just the vital info that I needed to sign off on it for the team to move forward. A funny thing happens when you put yourself on management autopilot because you’re busy. You tend to get bit in the butt. And I certainly did with that email. It was long. Much longer than a routine update needed to be. It was a back and forth correspondence between Liz and a woman who worked for her. And they weren’t updating me at all. In fact, it became clear that I wasn’t even the intended recipient. Instead, they were complaining to each other bitterly about this ‘idiot boss’ they worked for who was making their lives miserable. I realized I had a leadership problem among my managers, but Chapter 4: The Enforcer
  4. 4. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 43 I had no idea who the heck they were talking about because they only referred to the infamous boss as ‘The Don’. And the only Don I knew was Marlon Brando in the Godfather. They were pretty clear that if ‘The Don’ knew how much work went into each assignment, she wouldn’t dole it out at 4pm and expect people to stay to finish. And if ‘The Don’ had to do this herself she would understand what we were talking about when we said that it wasn’t going to work. Back and forth, back and forth. The complaints went on for pages. I had to find out who ‘The Don’ was. I called Liz down to my office but I kept reading as I waited for her, trying to figure it out. She got there, my focus was still on the computer screen. When I heard her heels clicking on my hardwood floor, I told her to have a seat across the room on my suede couch. I swiveled my chair away from my computer towards Liz, who was sitting there, pad and pencil in hand ready to take notes from our meeting. Then I hit her with it. “Who’s the Don?” A funny thing happens when you put yourself on management autopilot. You tend to get bit in the butt.” Chapter 4: The Enforcer
  5. 5. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 44 Instantly, I could see the blood drain from her face. The jig was up; I knew the email was about me. I was ‘The Don’. Despite the fact she looked like she was about to faint and I felt like I had been punched in the stomach, I had to ask: “Ok, Liz, why do you call me ‘The Don’?” There goes that blood draining again. She stuttered a lot but finally copped to the fact that an assistant on her team was terrified of me, so much so that if she saw me walking down a hall toward her she would jump into the nearest office to avoid walking past me. And, never one to let an opportunity to yank someone’s chain pass, Liz and her email cohort decided to stoke the fire by telling the poor girl that she was right to be afraid of me; that I was so hardcore that if she didn’t do her job perfectly I would make her ‘sleep with the fishes’. “Yup, that’s why we call you ‘The Don’.” It was the first time that I realized that my natural leadership style was not going to work with everyone.” Chapter 4: The Enforcer
  6. 6. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 45 All of that training and coaching down the drain! I was not only failing to connect with the people who were working for me, I was scaring the beejeezus out of them! It was the first time I realized that my natural leadership style was not going to work with everyone. It was a style that I was comfortable with and had helped get me into a leadership position. But it wasn’t going to work anymore – at least not all of the time with all people. The natural biases of my ‘Enforcer’ archetype, left unchecked, had wreaked havoc on my team. I didn’t understand my own frame of mind – that was created by years of unique experiences – so I couldn’t begin to make sense out of the fact that everyone didn’t see things exactly as I did. Despite all of the training that told me to motivate people by appealing to their self-interests, I lacked the self-awareness to see that my own biases were preventing me from having any empathy for people with different values and ways of thinking. I was on a single-minded ‘Enforcer’ mission to create a team with high performance and I missed the fact that the people around me might have other missions motivating them. As a leader, I needed to be absorbing the anxiety of the people on my team and, instead, I was seemingly the one who was bullying and persecuting them for not being replicas of myself. Chapter 4: The Enforcer
  7. 7. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 46 This leadership thing was clearly not going to be as black and white as I thought it would be. While being ‘The Don’ didn’t achieve great results in the example above, it was nonetheless a vital advantage in my getting to that level of leadership fairly quickly. My natural style was an advantage for me in terms of confidence, accountability, delivering high performance, and being fearless. However, those qualities also created a bias in my perception of anyone I didn’t see as having high confidence, high performance, and was anything less than fearless. That bias in turn affected how people who weren’t natural Enforcers saw me. Instead of a high performer, non-Enforcers saw me as a perfectionist. Rather than confident, I was overbearing. I wasn’t accountable, I was unreasonably demanding. Depending on our own natural style and our unique experiences, we have a bias that means we see the same thing differently. Understanding what your natural style is in combination with how other people see that style is the first step in turning it into your advantage. Your natural style is where you deviate from average. It’s where you have the possibility of not just being better than most, but find the potential to be absolutely the best. It’s the most natural part of your personality and has shaped your behaviors from the time you were a kid. It’s what probably made you feel a bit Chapter 4: The Enforcer
  8. 8. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 47 like a misfit at a time when you so desperately wanted to fit in. Now, it’s what makes you stand out. When you are operating in your natural style people look at you as if you are freakin’ Houdini. You’ll hear people comment that ‘they don’t know how you do that’ or ‘they don’t know how you do it so fast’. It’s often others that spot your natural style before you do because it’s so easy and effortless to be there that you don’t think it’s anything special. But it is. Not everyone can do what you do effortlessly. Every archetype comes with its own natural advantages and biases, and should be managed accordingly. But achieving the self-awareness to identify your archetype doesn’t happen automatically. We often don’t see ourselves as others do and that impression we make on people really does matter. To paraphrase musician and business mogul Jay Z, ‘We all have genius level talent, we just have to find out what it is, then apply it in a way that supports our genius.’ When you are operating in your natural style people look at you as if you are freakin’ Houdini.” Chapter 4: The Enforcer
  9. 9. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 48 Nicknames like ‘The Don’ are language shortcuts people use to communicate with each other to say ‘Hey, we’re both getting the same vibe from this person. We know what to expect from them’, and if you’re lucky enough to find out what your nickname is, you will have found a short cut to identifying your natural advantage. Otherwise, try these exercises to help discover your leadership archetype: Rather than shrugging off compliments in mock humility, pause to consider the good things people say about you. These are clues to the natural advantage that you already have in play. List all the day-to-day tasks you find effortless. Examine this list for competency or behavior patterns that match one of the 10 archetypes discussed in chapter two. Ask people to describe you in three words. Like a nickname, this will reveal the key advantages and biases of your natural style. Chapter 4: The Enforcer
  10. 10. OWN YOUR ADVANTAGE 49 Understanding your natural biases empowers you to leverage them in your favor in the right situations, or override them when they will hurt you. Chapter 4: The Enforcer