We have all seen it before, that “Alpha male” that “leader”, manager or coach using their power and position they have over someone to get their way. Screaming, threatening and deceiving to get their way, regardless of the damage it is doing. Stephen Covey (author of the 7 Habits) would describe this as a Win – Lose method. Keith Ferrazzi (author of Never Eat Alone) would describe it as “the old way to make it”. Jordan Peterson (author of 12 rules for life) would say you’re breaking Rule 10 “Be Precise with your speech” (however I’d argue the person doing this is also breaking the Rule 6 of not having their house in order before they criticize others.) Most would describe it as being a dick head and I’m here to tell you that won’t last, at least not for long. Without buy in you, your company, team or goal are nothing. You need to lead. You need to not be a dickhead. Because its not about you, it never has been.
Marathon vs Sprint:
Want to get somewhere quick? Take the short cut! Use all of your energy up right away! No time for others, you got to go! This is the mindset of the DH and it’s tough to blame him/her (mostly because I’ve been there) They are put in a positive feedback loop, the more they focus on themselves, the faster they go, the better the shortcuts the more success they see. They climb the social rankings. They climb the company ladder. They taste success and they have closed all doors to feedback from people that could show them all their errors. Which leaves them at the top, without growth, without connections, without abilities. It leaves them at the top with their only leadership qualities being yelling, past achievements and anger. Leaving all of your followers, stressed, unsure of why they are following you and subconsciously planning to undermine you in every action they perform. SHOOT! Maybe it’s not about the sprint, maybe it’s about the marathon. Maybe its just me, maybe I just don’t like the sprint, let’s get another opinion on it.
Baboons and Stress:
Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky studied baboons and the effects of “DH” leadership. The typical leader would bully both smaller males and females to get his way, food, sex, living arrangements, whatever he pleased. Sound familiar? During a shortage of food, these baboons would dig in the garbage for food, with the Alpha males pushing past everyone else to get their food while everyone else starved. This garbage meat caused a huge outbreak of disease and killed off all the alpha males that pushed past everyone to get their food! (Maybe if they had a group of people around them that they listened to, they’d tell them not to eat out of garbage, okay probably not, they are baboons, but you get the point) What this led to was the more social and well behaved baboons to step up into a leadership role and the results were pretty sweet.
“But when the top-ranking males died-off in the mid-1980s, aggression by the (new) top baboons dropped dramatically, with most aggression occurring between baboons of similar rank, and little of it directed toward lower-status males, and none at all directed at females. Troop members also spent a larger percentage of the time grooming, sat closer together than in the past, and hormone samples indicated that the lowest status males experienced less stress than underlings in other baboon troops.”
More grooming, closer bonding and less stress. Sounds like a recipe for success. Sounds like a magic pill companies, families and sports teams would pay millions for. But you don’t have to pay millions for it, you have to stop being a DH.
Stop being a DH:
So how do we stop being a DH when we see everyone succeeding doing things this way? Focus on the marathon not the sprint. Realize the sprint method of success is short lived. Realize that if you build yourself up, with others, that platform you stand on is so much more powerful. It’ll allow you to do things others could only dream of. You need to build buy in, and you need to build a community, regardless of what you’re doing. If people don’t believe in you and your mission, your orders and skill sets don’t matter. People will find a way to undermine what you’re doing, because it’s exactly what you’re doing to them. In my profession of coaching I’ve seen so many coaches struggle with this. They have knowledge, they have that job, they have that certification, but they have zero buy in, so none of it matters. So how do we do this? Do the Opposite of what a DH does.
1) Don’t take Short Cuts – Learn the hard way, grow who you are, put yourself in hard situations.
2) Be Kind – People care that you care.
3) Learn to Relate and build up relationships – As a leader, you need to know people. You need to know how to relate. Some people need aggression and loud motivation in their lives, but you yell at a person that doesn’t respond to that and you’ll lose that person forever. Some people need happiness and jokes to make it through the day but with some, if you joke, you’ll lose all your credibility with them in that moment. What makes people that are following you tick? Why are they putting their trust in you? Find these things out, really take the time to know who you are leading, see things through their lenses and then communicate in that way. Don’t be fake, be good, find a way to get your message and who you are, into their hearts, head and souls.
4) Own Your Mission – if things aren’t working, as a leader, its your fault. Take that onto your shoulders. Grow from it. It’s the only way to go forward and not get passed up. If the people following you aren’t getting the jobs you need them to get done to accomplish the mission, then you need to find a way to get it done. Maybe its how you communicate, maybe its your talent placement, maybe its your skill set. Whatever it is, take ownership over it, adapt and make it happen.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows:
Not being a dickhead doesn’t mean everything will be nice, it doesn’t mean everyone will be your best friend and it sure as hell isn’t an excuse to be a passive or a beta. The world needs leaders now more than ever. The world needs people pushing forward that are passionate and aren’t afraid to show and stand up for their beliefs. But the world needs these leaders to bring others along with them. It’s not about you, it never has been. Keep Chopping Wood.