What Dumb Leaders Do – 8 The Comfort King – Keeper of the Boys Club

It’s real. The boys club, or it’s female equivalent, the girl’s army or dyad. At best polarising, at worst completely divisive. They exist in our corporate worlds and in our business networks. They are as real as we want them to be. And they are the domain of the Dumb Leader.

Our Dumb Leader surrounded himself with people just like themself. Many supported the same football team, or at the very least were passionate about the game they followed. They had the same background, they had shared thoughts, shared experiences and almost shared consciousness. Similar beliefs, similar political ideals or at least that’s how they play the game.

The DL I know, created his team of followers within a large corporate business we worked in. He was my immediate boss, and he alienated me and others that didn’t fit the mound. We didn’t follow the sporting code he did, we didn’t share the same background, we didn’t live in the right postcodes, we hadn’t spent our entire careers in the one company. We didn’t follow the norm

The talk on a Monday morning centred around the weekend’s games, as the boys boosted their testosterone levels in relaying the moments of elation and disparity arising from the games.

And everyone that was not part of the club, felt isolated and alone. They did not feel part of the team.

It is natural that you connect with some people easily, due to some commonalities, but it’s important that the leader connects with all their team, not just the ones they naturally gravitate to.

The Scenario

This team lurched from one drama to the next. They were always in crisis mode, everyone in the team knew they weren’t a team. They treated each other with suspicion and feigned cordiality. The boys club side of the equation, had an easier life. They were question less in review meetings, asked to explain results less and were less accountable.

The only side of the fissure, were often integrated at meetings, photos of problems shared amongst the group and were questioned on every little anomaly. They often felt the brunt of blame as to why the entire team’s results weren’t achieved.

Results from the boy’s club side were often less than the ostracized team members, however that didn’t stop the DL from behaviours that indicated otherwise.

The connection he felt with his boys, blinded him and ultimately made him ineffective. His attempts to build a productive team, could only be described as feeble and were in word only. The team stood no chance as his behaviours contradicted his word and were perceived as hypocritical.

The team churned team members constantly and the venting within the team often went on unabated. While the churn was evident with the team, the managers that reported to members of the team also picked up on the inconsistencies and alienation, causing confusion and politics. They were often manipulated by the DL and were in a constant state of to and fro, trying their best to serve two masters. These lower level front line managers were provided no leadership development and were expected to follow orders and checklists. They had no understanding of the power plays being impacted on them and naturally this confusion and lack of awareness, creating an undercurrent of gossip and rumours.

The performance of the team, never fulfilled the potential available. The team individually were all solid performers, but none of them were engaged in the company vision or strategy. The boys club were more intent of following the leader and agreeing with his every step, while the externals were isolated and when you are alone, connection to the vision is rarely achieved.

The 3 Step Strategy

Good leaders understand that their behaviours speak louder than their words. It doesn’t matter what you say, if your actions and behaviours actively speak the opposite. It makes sense that your words and behaviours are aligned.

When it comes to connecting with your team, a leader knows it takes work and intentional effort.

  1. The first step of the strategy is to ensure you are scheduling “diary time” for every one of your team member. This diary time should be a regular thing for you and the team member to check in, listen, coach and develop. A regular one-on-one shows the team member that you care about them and what they are achieving.
  2. Develop your awareness of others. Be acutely aware of any changed behaviour amongst your team, looking particularly for changes with people becoming aloof or silent. Being aware when others have changed approach, behaviour and attitude and the sooner the better. There is always a reason for changes in people, and the sooner you can listen in for perspective the stronger the chances of you creating a positive change.
  3. Don’t engage in lazy leadership. Lazy leaders visibly spend more time with leaders they connect with easily. Be intentional, a team 100% behind you as the leader will always beat a team that is 50% for and 50% neutral.

Summary

As with everything, what is easy is never the best. Don’t take the easy options when it comes to connecting and working with your team. If you want the best results connect with all of them, not just the ones that you have natural connection with.

Photo by Steven Diaz on Unsplash