‘Every boss is an asshole’, she claims loudly. Having several managers at the table, the rebuke comes instantly. A discussion unfolds whether bosses have the capacity to be nice or if a certain career molds people inevitably into assholes. All agree that at least some sort of toughness can be seen in every leader they know and that there is the risk of bad behavior.
As I have heard similar statements quite often, I am wondering whether there is a piece of explanation why especially women do not thrive for leadership positions. Might they fear to loose their integrity?
And on the scale of ‘being an asshole-type of boss’, I am also wondering if these people willingly stepped into that direction or if it just happened? And if it happens: can it happen to anyone?
Everyone who ever needed to lead a group of people for some time, will recall moments when your motives were challenged by the group. Let’s look at an example: In the role of the leader, you needed to take a decision. This decision wasn’t liked by everyone in the team. But instead of distinguishing between the decision and the leader as a person some team members question the integrity of the leader. ‘I don’t like the decision’ becomes a ‘I believe the motives of the leader are bad’. And that can turn into a ‘the leader is a bad person’. Being confronted with those types of rumors, the leader needs to decide what to do with it: attack? draw back? explain? … but to whom?
The frustration of the leader about the team setting up rumors, can lead to decisions like ‘if I cannot meet their expectations anyway, why should I even bother in the first place’. Slowly and step by step, the motives of the leader actually do change to the worse. And instead of being the best boss they wanted to become, they are loosing part of that vision.
Sad, if that happens to others. But what about you? How do you want to become as a leader?
One essential part on the road of becoming a good leader is forgiveness. To forgive yourself when you mess up, to ask others for forgiveness and also to forgive others who treated you badly in actions or in words. If you start taking on the whole emotional baggage that comes with the leadership role, you have no chance to keep your heart soft and open for people.
Where are you on this road? Who do you need to forgive? What do you need to let go of in order to become the cool leader you dream of?