Sunday, August 27, 2017

If You're Complaining You're Not Leading

I conduct all sorts of training in the Philippines that include leadership as topic. I see this pattern all the time whenever participants complain about situations that hinder them from achieving whatever objectives or initiative they have.

The complaints typically range from various causes. Uncooperative employees, incompetent staff, impossible bosses, limited resources, unfair arrangements, unrealistic goals, the list go on.  

You’ve probably heard of the stories. Perhaps, you’ve griped a few times yourself. I know I have. Let me make this clear, complaining does not disqualify you from being a leader but it does hinder you from taking leadership actions.  If have been complaining about a situation for some time and feel that you are in a situation that render you as a victim or without power to change it, we are hindering ourselves from leading.


This is not about control or about being in control. It’s about ownership. Leaders take ownership of the situation they are in and constantly ask what can be done to improve this situation? Leaders are only temporarily defeated.  When they fall, they dust themselves off and find their way back into the fight. Whatever that fight is.  If they see lack of cooperation, they explore that situation and figure out how to get cooperation. If they lack resources, they get creative. 

They also realize that leadership is not confined to leading one’s staff, that it extends to leading peers, even bosses. They build strong alliances with others and work with them to achieve shared aspiration. They are optimistic that a better future can be achieved. They may complain, but they don’t complain very long. They eventually take charge and try to change the situation. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Step 1 of Leadership Part 3: From Powerless to Empowered Mindset


Leaders need to embrace both the power and the responsibility of leadership. Many people get promoted to supervisory or management position who bring with them some of the powerless mindsets of being followers.  In this article, I will share my thoughts on the needed paradigm shift and talk specifically about needed transitions from powerless to empowered mindsets.
  1. From Boss is responsible to all are responsible – Admit it. There were times when we complain to our peers about the decisions and strategies of our bosses. We thought we have better ideas and perhaps we’re right, but we seldom talk about it with our boss. We go to the cafeteria with someone else who have no power to change the situation and gripe together. If you are a supervisor or manager now, there’s a good chance, your staff are doing the same. How do you encourage them to come to you and share their opinion? You need to remove the typical barrier that hinder open communication between bosses and subordinates by telling your team members that part of their job is helping you solve problems by sharing their ideas and speak up when they think there are better ways of doing things.
  2. From being reactive to proactive – Leaders are proactive. When you spend too much time putting out fires rather than preventing them from happening, you are being reactive. Proactive leaders anticipate problems, learn from their experience and do better at getting things done because they pay attention.
  3. From finger pointing to problem solving – Blaming never solves problems, problem solving does. Rather than ask who caused a problem, ask what caused it and how to correct and prevent it. Blaming is the work of people who need to push accountability away from them. You can’t do that if you are a leader. It doesn’t help you, it doesn’t help anyone.
  4. From “he makes me so mad” to I can control my own emotion – Emotion is an important part of leading. This does not mean that leaders should not express negative emotion or frustration. However, there is a way of expressing emotion in a way that helps correct behavior. Shouting, embarrassing your team members just won’t help change behavior, on the other hand, it worsens people’s perception of your ability to lead.  Another thing, if you are going to be upset, focus your frustration on the deed rather than the person.  This gives you an opportunity to maintain the relationship while correcting behavior
  5. From there’s nothing I can do to We can look at our alternatives – I’m of the thought that when leaders give up, they have to leave their post. You cannot have a defeated leader continue to lead as it is tantamount to having a defeated team. More often than not, it’s not true that there’s nothing you can do. You haven’t found the solution yet, and if you look harder, you’ll find it.
  6. From that’s just the way I am to I can choose a different approach – When we lead, we lead different kinds of people with different values, personalities and preferences. It helps to know them and learn how to effectively deal with them A good leaders is a good learner. They have a growth mindset that allows them to adjust to different people and emotion
  7. From waiting for orders to taking actions – most leaders report to higher ranking leaders. Many new supervisors and managers wait for instructions, which shouldn’t be the case. As front line leader or a mid-level manager, we need to lead 360 degrees. The way to do it is to recognize what changes, you have the power to make and influence, people whose support you’ll need to make those changes happen. That includes your boss, your peers and your staff.


These are all easier said than done. I’ve talking about these in all my supervisory, management and leadership courses and yet, I still find my self, demonstrating powerless thinking like blaming or failing to adjust to people and situation. I do my best to catch my self when it happens so I can make the necessary correction. If you are a manager, people will hesitate to call you out on your actions, you have to be responsible for your own behavior by being aware of your emotion, your reaction to it, and how you project it. It’s part of your self mastery.