12 Sep 2017

Deny, Denounce and Deflect

Deny, Denounce and Deflect

Leading people and organizations is a tough job.  Arguably, it is getting harder every day with the break neck speed by which change is necessary.   Even the best intentions and most aptly equipped leaders are subject to human frailty.  Leaders are hard wired to be in charge and willing to accept the challenge that comes along with the job yet need to be always mindful of their actions at all times.  These actions come in not only what you say but what you do during stressful times in your organization.  Avoid the pitfall as a leader to deny, denounce and deflect when things are not going the way you want.  If so do this, you will loose the trust of your staff and your overall ability to be an impactful leader for positive change.

There are many leaders who fit this description to a tee.  In fact, most of them do but that is where the similarities end and the differences begin.  So why do some of these individuals successfully lead their school through a cultural shift and others, at best, maintain status quo or actually push the cultural cohesion further apart?  There are three key areas that separate effective and ineffective leaders.

When challenges come a leader’s way it is how they emotionally embrace these challenges that will determine their success. For leaders it is easy to take bad news or ugly data personally and respond accordingly.  This is understandable, but must be avoided, because your work is personal to you.  Effective leaders consciously avoid responding out of emotion.  We have all seen and felt the results of leaders who respond and react emotionally.  It causes stress throughout the entire system and raises concern about stability thus halting or retarding growth.  Sadly, when faced with bad news some leaders instinctively deny, denounce and deflect bad news.  When a leader reacts from an emotional frame of mind and does any of these acts they will irreversibly limit their ability to lead.

Organizational success is a team sport. Effective leaders at all costs, avoid the use of personal pronouns!  There is likely no action  a leader will initiate in a vacuum.  The organization is not the leaders but the responsibility to move it forward is.  People do not respond well to language that indicates a less than inclusive partnership.  They might feel if you are ok presenting yourself as the Lone Ranger during good times you can be one during bad times as well.

Effective leaders collect feedback to make informed decisions.  They also understand data isn’t personal but how they use it should be. Sound data is the name of the game.  Sometimes it is like looking into a mirror and not liking what you see.  All data really is are a bunch of numbers or sentences so why do people react like undesirable data is a reflection on them as an individual.  Effective leaders do not do this or at a minimum, their outward appearance doesn’t indicate it is personal to them.  Real leaders live and act by the motto “data isn’t personal but how we use it should be”.

Leaders, put the “You” away to lead and replace it with “we” or “us”.  Your effectiveness will be dependent on your ability to navigate difficult data and situation and doing so in an inclusive, visionary and forward focused manner.  Never ever respond to bad times or data emotionally and deny, denounce and deflect.   Leadership is a team sport and as the captain, your job is to ensure you win or lose as a team.  The tone and tenor is set by you and will differentiate between success or failure.

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