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Autocratic Leadership.The One Skill That Can Rescue a 'Sometimes Jerk' Leader

devil wears prada

In Part 1 of this focus on autocratic leadership we differentiated between this harmful dictator style and being an 'imperfect' Leader.  My old boss Tony, from many years ago, could be a jerk sometimes. Even so, he knew how to engage us, by demonstrating care and concern when it counted. My teammates and I always felt loyal to him, and as a result we were driven to give our best on the job.

"You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Years later, I know his 'secret' - he had mastered this important trust-building leadership skill: Cultivate a Positive Sense of Self in Others - which is the ability to cultivate, sustain or build a positive sense of self (self-confidence) in other people.  

You may be thinking, "Okay, that Skill makes sense. Helping to increase self belief could improve performance and loyalty. I can see that. But how do I actually do that? And how do I know if I already good at this or if I suck at it?"

Great questions. Start with these three actions.

Three Actions to Stop Autocratic Leadership

Here are three actions you can add to your 'Leadership Tool Chest' to ensure that the "Dictator" autocratic leadership style does not sneak in... 

  • Action 1: Use the 3:1 ratio.

    This is one constructive change feedback  for every three statements of specific praise.  Recognition and sincere appreciation for what is working is powerful, powerful, and powerful. Do it more than you're doing now, and watch the difference on your team.  (Read: How Full Is Your Bucket.)

  • Action 2: Clarify individual roles. 

    Develop and share a performance dashboard for each position. This is the top 3-5 focus areas and goals for each job. This brings clarity, direction and empowers people with your expectation that they must perform. See examples and a video demonstration of how to create a Dashboard, here.
  • Action 3: BEFORE you share your input and feedback about an employee's performance, ALWAYS ask the employee to share his/her view first. 

    This Action Step is crucial because it:
        - Teaches people to self assess
        - Demonstrates that you care about what each person thinks and how they feel
        - Provides insight for you on that person's level of self awareness
        - Helps the employee become more receptive to feedback

    With the simple act of asking for another person's view of their performance first, you improve the probability that your feedback will be heard and that the employee will take positive action.

Remember These Three Action Steps: Would you like to remember the three action steps AND this great leader skill? Get the Memory Jogger Card, here.

team cooperation

Yes, you CAN be a 'sometimes jerk' and still be an effective leader.  The 'secret' to avoiding the dictator autocratic leadership moniker is to focus on Cultivating a Positive Sense of Self in Others. Your future business career success, depends on it.

Also, consider having every leader in your organization (including yourself) get 360 Feedback. A 360 is a powerful development tool that involves getting anonymous feedback by direct reports, boss and peers.  Find out for sure how close or far away you are from mastering  the 'Cultivate a Positive Sense of Self in Others' leadership skill.

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