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How Do Others Experience My Leadership?

June 11 2018 - by Lois Parkes, CLP's Regional Project Manager

A mentee recently shared with me his frustrations with his supervisor. The frustrations centered on his supervisor’s tendency to procrastinate, which led to poor decision-making (or no decision-making). Several critical matters were piled up on the supervisor’s desk, waiting to be actioned. All the usual methods to prod the supervisor to action had been tried. Reminders were sent by all means available – emails, WhatsApp messages, verbal commuication and getting his Assistant to remind him. The documents were placed in order on the supervisor’s desk, the straight conversation about the impact of procrastination had occurred, and help was offered. All methods yielded no results, hence, the venting session.

I left the conversation very deeply disturbed. The supervisor is a beloved colleague, very easy to get along with and likeable. This is the colleague that everyone wants to succeed, including the supervisee. However, the supervisor’s procrastination was a source of under-performance, demotivation and utter frustration. By no means do I believe that the supervisor wakes up each morning with the expressed intention of creating maximum levels of frustration for his team. However, this was not how his team member was experiencing his leadership.

I then asked myself the question – how do others experience my leadership? As I explored the issue, a number of questions came to mind:

  • Do people want to work with me, and why?
  • Is my team more productive and developed because of my leadership?
  • If my team was very honest with me, what things would they tell me to desist from doing because it was not helpful?
  • How am I as a leader really supporting my team?
  • Am I the kind of leader who people only follow out of fear, obligation or morbid curiosity?
  • In what ways am I being a stumbling block to my team?
  • When others experience my leadership, are they learning what to do or what NOT to do as a leader?

As you are reading this blog, I am sure the natural inclination is to think of all the managers and supervisors who you know should be reading this, and examine themselves. However, may I encourage you to turn the spotlight on the inside. Hold up a mirror, and to ask yourself the question – How do others experience my leadership?

Your feedback on this blog is welcomed.

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Julie Meeks - Reply

Dear Lois

This is a very serious matter indeed.  I do understand the situation with having a likeable, personable colleague, who nonetheless is performing in a way which is very problematic.  So difficult to handle.  Worse yet, when all the usual prompts have not been successful.  A challenging situation to address. and I think at this point one must speak with whoever the person reports to and plainly discuss what is happening, for the good of the organization.

But more critically, I found the reading channelling me to focus on my own performance.  Indeed: what would my honest reports tell me not to do, or to do more of?  How am I a stumbling block?  It is so much easier to observe and recognize negative behaviours in others than in oneself.  Thank you for the reminder and the opportunity to explore these questions.



Lois Parkes

Thanks for your insights, Julie. This is indeed a very thought-provoking issue, requiring instropection into oneself and impact as a leader

Shawn - Reply

Interesting read. Definitely made me take a more reflective look at my approach to leading the teams I’m involved in. I find it easier to be critical of others as oppose to critiquing oneself. As leadership is an everyday act I figure there are days I excel and days that I don’t. I hope we all can learn from this supervisor. 

Lois Parkes

Thanks Shawn for your feedback and comments. Continue to do that introspective work as a leader

Levene Griffiths - Reply

 It is sometimes quite interesting to note how supervisors see themselves,in contrast to those they supervised see them. We forget that we are not perfect and have our own idiosyncrasies that sometimes impact. I have had similiar conversations with staff about their supervisors. In most cases, Supervisor are not aware that they sometimes, impede workflow. But then there are staff who finds it more beneficial to argue about the supervisor than to doing their job.  Whatever the case, it is hard to face the man in the mirrow. 

But it is something that all good leaders strive to do.  If we practise to be more mindful of others, we can at least stem the flow of discontent with those we supervised.  As the good book says ' do unto others as you would have them do to you'.

Lois Parkes

Well said, Levene