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When Leaders Show You Who They Are Believe Them

What a quote by Maya Angelou, hey! Obviously, she used the word "people" instead of the leader.

People hardly do something once. We constantly repeat behaviours, leaving traces of whom we are, and the same applies to leadership.

If you see leaders shouting, blaming, or mistreating their staff, you need to ask, "Have I seen this before from this leader?" Why? Because people quickly claim, "Oh, I don't know what came over me, I've never done that before." and we believe them.

We are terrible at picking up traces of behaviour and tend to believe spoken words and relationships. We believe our friends and partners won't do something they have done twenty times before. We believe leaders when they claim, "It is the people here I cannot do what I want to do" but when you start examining work history, they never really performed.

I have watched for two years a restaurant manager receiving awful feedback from her staff about her demeaning and disrespectful behaviour. We reached the point where she acknowledged it but could never change it. Once I told the higher management, "This is her, and now you are asking me to change a person's character," when they asked me to do something. I worked with her, but we hardly got beyond the recognition of her behaviour and its impact on others. She will need ten more years to mature and have herself under control.

Another example of people showing us their lack of performance but we are blind to it:

Once, I had an HR Director fired from where we worked together. I liked her, and I actually thought she could do the job. But then, I thought, hang on. I looked back at her last four work histories (same company) and realised that one way or another, she was either let go from some of those roles or there was no performance, and she left. She is in the same boat Today in her 7th or 8th HR role. No proven performance.

So what has misguided my judgment? A close friend, a senior HRD whom I love and trust as a professional, always said good things about her. And there I was, falling for something somebody had said but not picking up on the traces of behaviour she left behind.

And I have seen this during promotions, hiring, disciplinary hearings etc... The signs are always there, we just either ignore them or can't read them.

So when people and leaders show you who they are or what they are made of through their repeated behaviour, believe them.

If you want to read more about leaders' behaviour check out The Corporate Kindergarten book

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